Benchmark milk price sets record

By LEE MIELKE

For the Capital Press

Columnist Lee Mielke wraps up the week's dairy news.

The USDA has announced the April Federal order Class III milk price at an all time record high of $24.31 per hundredweight, up 98 cents from March and $6.72 above April 2013. That equates to about $2.09 per gallon.

That will likely be the peak for 2014 as Class III futures settled Friday as follows: May, $22.75; June, $21.55; July, $20.55; August, $19.94; September, $19.87; October, $19.51; November, $19.05; and December, $18.62.

The Class III average for 2014 now stands at $23.04, up from $17.48 at this time a year ago, $16.14 in 2012, and $16.69 in 2011.

The April Class IV price is $23.34, down 32 cents from March but $5.24 above a year ago. Its 2014 average now stands at $23.19, up from $17.81 a year ago, $15.66 in 2012, and $18.50 in 2011.

The 4-week, NDPSR-surveyed cheese price used in calculating these milk prices was $2.3547 per pound, up 8.6 cents from March. Butter averaged $1.9227, up 6.7 cents. Nonfat dry milk averaged $2.0191, down 7.1 cents, and dry whey averaged 67.74 cents, up 2.2 cents. California’s comparable 4a and 4b prices will be announced tomorrow by the California Department of Food and Agriculture.


California 4b milk price drops


The California Department of Food and Agriculture announced the state’s April Class 4b cheese milk price May 6 at $21.73 per hundredweight, down 43 cents from March, $4.81 above April 2013, but a stunning $2.58 below the comparable federal order Class III price announced May 5, the largest gap since January 2012, and despite the CDFA-mandated milk price increases due to end in July. This gap is sure to fuel the federal order fires in the Golden State. The 4b four-month average now stands at $21.34, up from $15.80 at this time a year ago, $13.69 in 2012, and $15.13 in 2011.

The April 4a butter-powder milk price is $23.31 per cwt., down 6 cents from March but $5.29 above a year ago. The 4a 2014 average is now at $22.97, up from $17.75 a year ago, $15.44 in 2012, and $18.22 in 2011.


Cash cheese plunging, butter soaring


Cash cheese prices saw a second week of decline last week, with the blocks closing May 2 at $2.07 per pound, down 14 cents on the week and the lowest since Jan. 6, but still 16 cents above a year ago when the blocks peaked for the year at $1.91 per pound. Barrels closed at $2.0550, down 12 1/2-cents on the week but 32 1/2-cents above a year ago. As of May 6, both the blocks and the barrels had slipped to $2.0375 per pound.

Cash butter saw a second week of gain, soaring above $2 per pound for the first time since April 1, and closed May 2 at $2.0750, up 16 1/2-cents on the week and 42 1/2-cents above a year ago. Only one car sold on the week, the gains all came on unfilled bids. Butter is off to a good start this week as well, gaining 21/2 cents Monday and a nickel on Tuesday to hit $2.15 per pound, highest level since June of 2011.

Cash Grade A nonfat dry milk closed May 2 at $1.7775 per pound, down 3 1/4-cents on the week. The powder was still trading at that level on May 6.


Global Dairy Trade average down 1.1 percent


The slippage in the Global Dairy Trade auction is slowing. May 6’s event saw the weighted average for all products drop 1.1 percent. The price index has seen declines since reaching its recent high Feb. 4.

The downfall was led by a 2.3 percent drop in skim milk powder and a 1.8 percent decline in the Cheddar cheese. Whole milk powder was down 1.7 percent and buttermilk powder was down 1.2 percent.

Some products that headed up, led by rennet casein, up 6.8 percent, anhydrous milkfat was up 2.4 percent and butter was up 1.6 percent.

FC Stone reports the average butter price equated to about $1.7652/lb. U.S., up from $1.7383/lb. in the April 15 event ($1.7222/lb. on 80 percent butterfat, up from $1.6959/lb.). CME butter closed May 6 at $2.15/lb. The Cheddar cheese average was $1.9029, down from $1.9384/lb. The U.S. block price stands at $2.0375/lb. Skim milk powder, at $1.7568, is down from $1.8715/lb., and the whole milk powder average was $1.7819, down from $1.8004/lb. in the last event. The CME Grade A nonfat dry milk price stands at $1.7775/lb.



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