The U.S. Department of Agriculture showed in its latest “Milk Production” report that production in the 24 major milk-producing states during August totaled 17.8 billion lb., up 1.9% from August 2019, while production per cow averaged 2,009 lb., up 25 lb. from August 2019. The number of milk cows on farms in the 24 major states was 8.84 million head, 51,000 head more than August 2019 but unchanged from July 2020.
USDA also revised its July production data to 17.9 billion lb., a 2.0% increase from July 2019. The July revision represented an increase of 91 million lb., or 0.5%, from last month's preliminary production estimate, the agency said.
Total August milk production in the U.S. rose 1.8% year over year to 18.6 billion lb. Production per cow in the U.S. averaged 1,987 lb. for August -- 27 lb. above August 2019. The number of milk cows on farms in the U.S. was 9.36 million head, 42,000 head more than August 2019 but unchanged from July 2020.
Bob Cropp, emeritus dairy market specialist at the University of Wisconsin-Extension Agriculture & Natural Resources, said it appears that dairy farmers have responded a bit to the strong milk prices that were seen in June and July.
The latest numbers are a reversal from the milk production declines in May and the reduction in cow numbers seen since April.
Mark Stephenson said he was surprised that farms are turning things around as quickly as they are but noted that exports have been moving a lot of dairy product.
Still, challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic remain, as some of the reopening phases had to be retracted, and many schools remain in limbo.
Looking ahead, Cropp expects September production to decline slightly. His forecast for the Class III price in the fourth quarter of 2020 is $16.00/cwt.