The bids are in. Of those tentatively accepted — pending on-farm inspection of the animals — approximately 33,000 cows will be "retired" through the herd-reduction program of the Cooperatives Working Together program, says Chris Galen, communications director for the National Milk Producers Federation. Last year, those cows produced 580 million pounds of milk.

In addition, the bids tentatively accepted under the milk-production-reduction program will remove another 89 million pounds of milk for a total decrease of 669 million pounds. While that total may not seem like much, it does equate to about 0.4 percent of estimated milk production for 2003, explains Galen. And as the past few months have shown, given current tight market conditions, it only takes a small change — up or down — in the milk supply to have dramatic swings in milk price.