For the first time in 31 months, milk production is down on a year-over-year basis.

In August, milk production in the United States dropped 0.3 percent compared to the same month a year earlier, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported on Wednesday afternoon.

Average production per cow was down 9 pounds due to hot weather and the high cost of feed.

Dave Kurzawski, dairy analyst with FCStone/Downes-O’Neill in Chicago, called the report “slightly bearish” relative to expectations. It was the first negative growth since January 2010, but not as much of a decline as many people had anticipated, he pointed out. 

"That said, it is still negative production ahead of holiday demand," Kurzawski said. "And production may not get much better next month."

The number of milk cows in U.S. was up 20,000 head from August 2011, but down 6,000 from July.

In the top 23 milk-producing states, milk production was down 0.2 percent relative to August 2011, compared to 0.3 percent negative growth across the entire 50 states.

California’s milk production was down 5.8 percent compared to August 2011. Wisconsin, the second-leading milk-producing state, was up 4.9 percent.