Milk production has definitely kicked into a higher gear.

On Thursday, the USDA reported that milk production in 23 leading dairy states was up 4.3 percent in March compared to the same month a year earlier. Across all 50 states, production was up 4.2 percent.

It follows February’s hefty increase of 4.3 percent (across all 50 states).

Last year, the rate of growth was less. Year-over-year increases through the first seven months of 2011 were generally below 2 percent. 

Dave Kurzawski, dairy market analyst for FC Stone/Downes-O’Neill in Chicago, called Thursday’s report “neutral” since it was in line with market expectations.

"It’s hard to call north-of-4 percent milk production growth neutral," Kurzawski acknowledges. "The number is bearish with a capital ‘B.’  But pre-report expectations were for a slightly larger number than we received. So this report is neutral relative to expectations, bearish from a broader picture of supply/demand," he adds.

The states showing the largest increase in March were: Utah (7.8 percent), Michigan (7.3 percent) and Colorado (7.1 percent). Pennsylvania was down 0.6 percent.

Production per cow in the top 23 states jumped from 1,872 pounds in March 2011 to 1,931 pounds this past March, a 59-pound difference.