According to NASS, December milk production for the 23 surveyed states totals 14.6 billion pounds, down 0.8 percent from last year. Milk production has been below a year earlier for the last six months. Milk production for the U.S. for 2009 is estimated to be 189.3 billion pounds, down 0.4 percent from last year on an unadjusted basis.
December milk production for selected Western states is as follows: Colorado down 11.1 percent, Idaho up 0.4 percent, Oregon up 1.1 percent, Utah down 2.7 percent and Washington up 1.9 percent.
Cow numbers in all of the Western surveyed states declined in December compared to last year. The Colorado herd is down 14,000, Idaho down 4,000, Oregon down 1,000, Utah down 2,000 and Washington down 1,000.
Pacific Northwest weather was typical of an El Nino pattern last month. Temperatures were slightly above normal for the New Year. Precipitation in the form of rain is causing some problems in dairy areas of Oregon. Muddy cow yards are impacting production at some dairies.
Overall milk production in Oregon and Washington is slightly higher than last year. December production figures were 1 to 2 percent above year-ago levels.
Farmers are taking stock of feed supplies, as much of the top-quality hay supplies are becoming scarce. Hay prices are lower than last year, but high-quality forages are harder to find.
Plants are handling available milk supplies with production levels adequate for contracted needs.
Utah and Idaho had mixed weather. Rain was common in the area, although not heavy enough to cause interruptions for milk handlers.
Milk production levels were off 2.7 percent in Utah for December compared to last year, with Idaho slightly above last year.
Feed supplies and costs continue to weigh on farmers as they try to gain profitability for the 2010 season. Break-evens are much closer than last year.
Heifer auctions in Idaho were mostly steady with an average price for the top 50 head at one auction at $1,330 per head.
Milk processors are receiving sufficient supplies for immediate needs with some able to build inventories. Cream supplies are clearing to butter churns as they become available. PD