Increased output in milk per cow pushed January milk production above January 2018, according to preliminary data in another one of the delayed USDA reports, the January Milk Production report. Output in the top 23 producing states totaled 17.5 billion pounds, up a bearish 1.3 percent from 2018, with the 50-state total, at 18.6 billion pounds, up 0.9 percent. January 2016 was the last time the 50 state total fell below that of the previous year.
    Finalized data put total 2018 milk output at 218 billion pounds, up 1.0 percent from 2017. The USDA reported that annual U.S. milk output has increased 15.0 percent from 2009. Cow numbers totaled 9.4 million head, down 0.1 percent from 2017 but they have increased 2.1 percent from 2009. Output per cow averaged 23,149 pounds in 2018, up 235 pounds from 2017, an average that has increased 12.6 percent since 2009, according to the USDA.
    January cow numbers in the 50 states totaled 9.36 million head, down 83,000 from a year ago, seventh time cow numbers were below a year ago since May 2016. Output per cow averaged 1,988 pounds, up 35 pounds from the year before and the 39th consecutive month of gain.
    California output was up 0.8 percent from a year ago, thanks to a 25-pound gain per cow outweighing 8,000 fewer cows. Wisconsin was up 2.9 percent on a 65 pound gain per cow but cow numbers were down 5,000 head.
    Idaho was up 3.6 percent, thanks to 10,000 more cows and a 40 pound gain per cow. New York was up 3.4 percent, on a 60 pound gain per cow and 2,000 more cows. Pennsylvania was down for the 11th consecutive month, dropping 5.5 percent on 25,000 fewer cows and 15 pounds less per cow. Minnesota was up 1.6 percent, on a 50 pound gain per cow offsetting 5,000 fewer cows.
    Michigan ended six consecutive months of declines, jumping 1.1 percent on a 55 pound gain per cow offsetting 6,000 fewer cows. New Mexico was down 3.5 percent, on a 10 pound drop per cow and 10,000 fewer cows milked. Texans put 77 million pounds more in the tank than a year ago, a 7.3 percent increase, thanks to 18,000 more cows and a 75 pound per cow increase.
    Vermont crept up 0.9 percent, on a 45 pound per cow increase offsetting 2,000 fewer cows milked. Florida was down 4.5 percent on 8,000 fewer cows though output per cow was up 35 pounds. Washington State was up 3.4 percent on a 40 pound gain per cow but cow numbers were down 4,000 head.
    Meanwhile; Dairy Market News reports that the number of milk cows in the U.S. on January 1, 2019, totaled 9.35 million head, down 1 percent from the previous year. Milk cow replacement heifers totaled 4.7 million, down 1 percent from the previous year. The percentage of milk cow replacement heifers per 1,000 milk cows on January 1, 2019 was 50.3, down 1 percent from the previous year. Milk cow replacement heifers expected to calve during the year totaled 3.01 million head, down 1 percent from the previous year.
    With preliminary data showing January 50-State milk output at 18.6 billion pounds, up 0.9 percent, the March 14 Dairy Products report shows where it went.  
    January cheese output totaled 1.1 billion pounds, up 0.7 percent from December and just 0.4 percent above January 2018.
    Wisconsin contributed 278.7 million pounds of that total, down 0.7 percent from December and 4.0 percent below a year ago. California produced 214.0 million pounds, down 3.3 from December and 1.3 percent below a year ago. Idaho provided 86.7 million pounds, up 1.8 percent from December and 1.5 percent above a year ago. Minnesota, with 65.3 million, was down 0.4 percent from December but 5.5 percent above a year ago. New Mexico produced 80.0 million pounds, up 16.4 percent from December and 17.1 percent above a year ago.
    Italian cheese totaled 480.7 million pounds, up 0.3 percent from December but 1.3 percent above a year ago. Mozzarella, at 379.3 million pounds, was up 3.3 percent from a year ago.
    American type cheese totaled 438.7 million pounds, up 3.2 percent from December and 1.2 percent above a year ago.
    Cheddar, the cheese traded at the CME, totaled 322.6 million pounds, up 15.7 million pounds or 5.1 percent from December and 4.3 million or 1.4 percent above a year ago.
    U.S. churns gave us 189.9 million pounds of butter, up 17.9 million pounds or 10.4 percent from November and 7.7 million pounds or 4.2 percent above a year ago.
    Yogurt output hit 384.1 million pounds, up 5.1 percent from a year ago.
    Dry whey totaled 81.2 million pounds, down 10.1 percent. Dry whey for human consumption totaled 79.7 million pounds, up 8.9 percent from December but 9.5 percent below a year ago. Dry whey stocks totaled 78.7 million pounds, up 20.8 percent from December but 11.6 percent below those a year ago.
    Nonfat dry milk production totaled 172.7 million pounds, up 21 percent from December and 7.7 percent above a year ago. Stocks climbed to 283.6 million pounds, up 8.9 million pounds or 3.2 percent from December but are 23.4 million pounds or 7.6 percent below the 2018 level.
    Skim milk powder totaled 30.4 million pounds, down 40.1 percent from December and 33.5 percent below a year ago.
    The Agriculture Department again lowered its 2019 milk production estimate in the latest World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report, blaming smaller expected dairy cow numbers.
    2019 production and marketings were estimated at 219.7 and 218.8 billion pounds respectively, down 400 million pounds on output and down 300 million on marketings. If realized, 2019 production would still be up 2.2 billion pounds or 1.0 percent from 2018.
    The fat basis export forecast was reduced on slower expected sales of butterfat due to increased global competition. Skim-solids basis exports were lowered on expected strong competition in international skim milk powder markets and slower expected demand for whey products. The fat basis import forecast was lowered slightly while the skim-solids basis import forecast was unchanged.
    Annual product price forecasts for cheese, butter, nonfat dry milk were raised from the previous month, but the whey price forecast was reduced slightly.
    The Class III milk price was raised, based on a higher cheese price projection more than offsetting the lower whey price. Look for a 2019 average of around $15.20 per hundredweight, up 15 cents from the Department’s last estimate and compares to $14.61 in 2018 and $16.17 in 2017.
    The Class IV forecast was increased on higher forecast butter and nonfat dry milk prices. It’s projected at around $16.10, up 22 cents from the last projection and compares to a $14.23 average in 2018 and $15.16 in 2017.
    This month’s 2018/19 U.S. corn outlook is for lower use for ethanol, reduced exports, and larger stocks. Corn used to produce ethanol was lowered 25 million bushels to 5.55 billion. Exports were reduced 75 million bushels to 2.375 billion, reflecting diminished U.S. price competitiveness and expectations of increased exports for Brazil and Argentina. With no other use changes, ending stocks were raised 100 million bushels to 1.835 billion. The season-average corn price received by producers was lowered 5 cents at the midpoint to $3.55 per bushel.
    U.S. soybean supply and use changes included higher crush and lower ending stocks compared with last month’s report. Soybean crush was raised 10 million bushels to 2.1 billion on higher domestic disappearance of soybean meal and a lower soybean meal extraction rate. Soybean stocks were projected at 900 million bushels, down 10 million from last month.
    The season-average soybean price range forecast of $8.10-$9.10 per bushel was unchanged at the midpoint. Soybean oil and meal prices were also unchanged at 28.5 to 31.5 cents per pound and $295 to $335 per short ton, respectively.
    The U.S. 2018/19 cotton supply and demand estimates were unchanged from last month. The projected range for the marketing year average price received by producers of 69-71 cents per pound was reduced 2 cents, as the reported average price for January fell below previous expectations, according to USDA.
    Dairy traders had a lot to assimilate this week and by Friday had taken CME block Cheddar to a $1.56 per pound close on the week, 2 1/2-cents higher than the previous week but 2 1/2-cents below a year ago. The Cheddar barrels finished at $1.4925, up 12 3/4-cents on the week, highest since Sept. 10, 2018, 6 3/4-cents below a year ago, but pulled the spread down to 6 3/4-cents. There were 15 cars of block sold on the week at the CME and 27 of barrel.
    Midwestern cheesemakers continue to report seasonally quiet orders, according to Dairy Market News, and some expect the lull to continue through the month. Contacts relay that their milk suppliers, smaller dairy farms, experienced barn collapses due to excess snow-builds. Cows on those farms were being relocated but milk remains available and continues 50 cents to $2 under Class.
    A number of local cheesemakers say their inventories are manageable, as they have maintained limited production schedules however, some report recent upticks regarding production and expect it to continue forward as demand will pick up in the early spring. Cheese market tones are “steady to bullish.”
    Western cheese production is active as parts of the region have increasing milk output. Inventories are heavy and processors want to keep them in check.
Demand is strong from domestic retail outlets and a few export channels.
    Cash butter hit $2.2850 per pound Thursday, then backed down to close Friday at $2.28, up 1 1/4-cents on the week and 7 cents above a year ago, with 5 sales for the week.
    Midwest churns remain very active and plant managers relay cream continues to roll in, including additional loads from the West. Inventories are building.
    Western cream supplies are solid but not overbearing. Cream items’ production for the upcoming holiday is picking up. Food service and restaurant butter orderings are lagging a bit due to cooler weather conditions.
    Grade nonfat dry milk closed Friday at 96 3/4-cents per pound, down three quarter-cents on the week but 27 3/4-cents above a year ago, with 10 carloads switching places.
    The now one year old spot dry whey market closed the week at 32 cents per pound, down 2 cents on the week but 2 3/4-cents above a year ago, with 11 carloads finding new homes on the week.
    Are CME prices a result of the global dairy market or domestic demand? HighGround Dairy (HGD) Director of Dairy Market Intelligence Lucas Fuess said in the March 18 “Dairy Radio Now” broadcast that it’s a little of both.
    Cheese was the only dairy commodity where U.S. disappearance grew higher versus the prior year in December, he said. However, good disappearance earlier in the year across all other commodities, in some cases export driven, was enough to push total 2018 disappearance stronger year over year across all commodities. Total cheese disappearance was up versus the prior year for the third consecutive month, up 1.1 percent from 2017, according to Fuess.
    Sharply higher butter disappearance in October and November did not carry over into December, he said, with total disappearance down 7.1 percent and marked the lowest December butter disappearance since 2012.
    Domestic nonfat dry milk-skim milk powder disappearance was exceptionally sluggish, down 18.4 percent in 2018 for the lowest domestic disappearance in a calendar year since 2000, according to Fuess, and dry whey slipped lower in December, the sixth time in seven months, unable to continue November’s strength.
    Total whey protein concentrate disappearance dropped lower in December for the first time since December 2017, down 9.2 percent, according to HGD.
    In politics; the National Milk Producers Federation praised legislation that has been introduced by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Jim Risch (R-ID) in the Senate and Representatives Peter Welch (D-VT) and Mike Simpson (R-ID) in the House.
    The legislation “further prods the FDA toward increasingly necessary action as plant-based imitators of milk, cheese, butter and other products brazenly flout FDA rules restricting the use of dairy terms on non-dairy products,” according to a NMPF press release.
    The “Dairy Pride Act” is “another means toward a crucial end for consumers: the end of mislabeled non-dairy products as ‘milks’ in the marketplace,” says NMPF.
    “While NMPF continues to press the agency to strengthen its own enforcement, substantial support for dairy in Congress only underscores the urgency for the FDA to act,” charged NMPF president and CEO Jim Mulhern.