Cheese prices make a comeback


For the Capital Press

Columnist Lee Mielke wraps up recent dairy industry news.

Cash cheese reversed four weeks of decline last Thursday and topped $2 per pound again for the first time since May 12.

The blocks closed Friday at $2.02 per pound, up 2 1/4-cents on the week and 26 3/4-cents above a year ago. Barrel closed at $2.02 as well, up 6 cents on the week and 29 3/4-cents above a year ago. Ten cars of block traded hands on the week and two of barrel.

Trading was closed Monday for the Memorial Day holiday and Tuesday saw the blocks hold at $2.02 but the barrels jumped a penny and a quarter, to $2.0325.

The “spring flush” was slow in coming in the Midwest but USDA’s Dairy Market News reports that manufacturing milk supplies heading into the Memorial Day holiday weekend were heavy. Milk demand for bottling is generally lower. Milk production is building in the Midwest, Pacific Northwest, Utah and Idaho; steady in New Mexico, Arizona and California; and steady to easing along the East Coast.

Cash butter saw a small rally last Tuesday, slipped a half-cent Wednesday, then inched up three-quarters Thursday, and gained a penny Friday to close at $2.18 per pound, up 2 cents on the week and 63 cents above a year ago. Thirty-eight carloads traded hands last week. It pole vaulted another 7 cents Tuesday, hitting $2.25 per pound, the highest price since April 2004.

Cash Grade A nonfat dry milk saw some strength last week, closing Friday at $1.7925, up three-quarter cents. One car was sold. The Tuesday powder was at $1.7975, up a half-cent on the day.

Corn 88 percent planted, matches five-year average

The Agriculture Department’s latest Crop Progress report Tuesday shows 88 percent of the nation’s corn has been planted, up from 73 percent the previous week, up from 84 percent on this week a year ago, and dead even with the five-year average.

The report shows 59 percent of the soybean crop was in the ground, as of the week ending May 25, up from 33 percent the previous week, up from 41 percent a year ago, and 3 percent ahead of the five year average.

Dairy livestock slaughter down

Commercial red meat production for the United States totaled 3.98 billion pounds in April, down 3 percent from the 4.09 billion pounds produced in April 2013, according to USDA’s latest Livestock Slaughter report.

Beef production, at 2.04 billion pounds, was 4 percent below the previous year. Cattle slaughter totaled 2.59 million head, down 5 percent from April 2013. The average live weight was up 10 pounds from the previous year, at 1,306 pounds.

An estimated 229,800 dairy cows took retirement from the dairy business in April, down 16,000 head from March and 38,000 head below April 2013.

An estimated 982,000 culled dairy cattle were slaughtered under federal inspection in the January to April period, down 117,000 head from the same period a year ago.

Butter stocks may be giving the shivers

Preliminary data in USDA’s Cold Storage report issued May 22 shows April butter stocks at 174.15 million pounds, down 5.9 million pounds or 3 percent from March but a whopping 135.6 million pounds or 44 percent below April 2013.

American type cheese, at 648.1 million pounds, was up 9 million pounds or 1 percent from March but 50.6 million or 7 percent below a year ago. The total cheese inventory stood at 1.037 billion pounds, up 18.3 million pounds or 2 percent from March but 84.7 million or 8 percent below a year ago.

June federal order Class I price drops

The Agriculture Department announced the June federal order Class I base milk price this afternoon at $22.86 per hundredweight, down $1.61 from the record high May price, but still $3.93 above June 2013, and the highest June Class I price since June 2011. It equates to about $1.97 per gallon.

That puts the six-month Class I average at $23.02, up from $18.22 at this time a year ago, $16.48 in 2012, and $18.14 in 2011.

The two-week, National Dairy Products Sales Report-surveyed butter price used in calculating today’s price was $2.0176 per pound, up 4.7 cents from May. Nonfat dry milk averaged $1.8768, down 12.7 cents. Cheese averaged $2.2029, down 16.7 cents, and dry whey averaged 67.24 cents, down fractionally from May.

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