Dairy: Milk production for 2015 is forecast at 211.1 billion pounds, 2.5 percent higher than the 2014 level of 206.0 billion pounds, but 0.4 billion pounds less than forecast last month. The Class III milk price forecast is lowered to $15.95-$16.55 per hundredweight (cwt) due to lower whey prices, and the Class IV milk price forecast is raised to $15.30-$16.00 per cwt due to higher butter and nonfat dry milk prices. The all-milk price for 2015 is forecast at $17.05-$17.65 per cwt, a decrease from last month’s forecast of $17.40-$18.10 per cwt.

Beef/Cattle: Despite continuing drought in the Southwestern United States, winter precipitation has kept feeder cattle on Southern Plains wheat pasture. Placements of heavier feeder cattle in feedlots during the first and second quarters, combined with heavier average dressed weights for cows, could mitigate anticipated declines in cattle slaughter. Despite record retail beef prices, recent declines in live cattle prices have not resulted in significantly wider packer margins.

Beef/Cattle Trade: U.S. cattle imports were weaker during January than in the same period a year earlier. U.S. beef imports in January were 63.7 percent higher than the previous year, mostly due to higher shipments from Australia, while January beef exports were below those of last year.

Pork/Hogs: USDA increased first-quarter 2015 pork production slightly, to reflect larger than expected February hog slaughter and heavier average dressed weights. January pork exports were off sharply—21.4 percent—due in part to labor disputes at Pacific U.S. port facilities that limited shipments to Asia. Pork imports were up sharply, due in large part to the higher exchange rate value of the U.S dollar, which tends to lower foreign product prices. Retail pork prices are exhibiting stickiness even as wholesale pork prices decline.