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Spring milk production flush likely to be weaker

April production for 23 major milk-producing states up only 0.3% from April 2018.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture released its latest “Milk Production” report this week, showing that milk production in the 23 major states during April increased only slightly from year-ago levels. April production totaled 17.4 billion lb., up 0.3% from April 2018.

USDA also revised March production to 17.8 billion lb., a 0.3% decline from March 2018. The March revision represented a decrease of 40 million lb., or 0.2%, from last month's preliminary production estimate.

Production per cow in the 23 major milk-producing states averaged 1,996 lb. for April, 19 lb. above April 2018. This is the highest production per cow for the month of April since the 23-state series began in 2003, USDA said.

The number of milk cows on farms in the 23 major states was 8.71 million head, 55,000 head less than in April 2018 and 1,000 head less than in March 2019.

Key factors indicate that milk prices will continue to strengthen as the year progresses, according to Bob Cropp, emeritus dairy market specialist at the University of Wisconsin-Extension Agriculture & Natural Resources.

He said total milk production is forecasted to increase no more than 0.5% for the year. Total milk production in April was up just 0.1% from a year ago, which Cropp said was the net result of 1.0% fewer milk cows than a year ago and 1.1% more milk per cow.

For the top five milk-producing states, April milk production rose 6.7% for Texas, 2.6% for California, 2.2% for Idaho, 1.9% for New York but just 0.4% for Wisconsin. Cropp noted that relatively large declines in April milk production occurred in Virginia (-11%), Pennsylvania (-7.1%), Florida (-5.5%), Arizona (-4.7%) and New Mexico (-3.9%). Meanwhile, Michigan’s production improved, up 1.6% from April 2018. Additionally, production was 0.1% lower in Minnesota, 1.4% in Iowa and 1.8% higher in South Dakota.

“It appears the spring flush in milk production will be weaker than normal,” Cropp said.

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