Dairy prices under pressure due to increased U.S. milk production

Published: Apr. 16, 2021 at 6:37 AM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - Dairy prices continue to be under pressure because of increased milk production around the country. The latest USDA Dairy Products Report shows production of butter, cheese and nonfat dry milk in February was the highest ever for the month. But helping ease some of that price pressure has been increasing demand from the food service industry as more restaurants have been reopening with increased seating capacity. Butter production in February was over 185 million pounds while cheese makers produced over a billion pounds in February.

USDA numbers show China is aggressively buying U.S. soybeans. In March they bought 7.77 million metric tons from us—a new monthly record. For the first half of the current marketing year, the Chinese have bought almost 47 million metric tons of U.S. soybeans. Grain traders expect their purchases for the year will top 100 million metric tons since the second half of the year is their biggest buying window.

USDA officials also say they will soon put in place the Dairy Donation Program called for in the 2021 Consolidated Appropriations Act. The program is designed to reimburse coops and other organizations for their production costs when they process and donate surplus milk supplies and production to feeding programs around the country. The program does include some minimum requirements for dairies to get involved.

June might be Dairy Month, but May is being celebrated as American Cheese month. Major events are being planned for the month all over the state with the culmination of activities to include a celebration of Wisconsin’s 180th anniversary of cheese making. Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin, formerly known as the Wisconsin milk marketing Board, is leading the festivities across the state designed to get consumers involved in the history and importance of cheese making to the state. Cheese making first came to Wisconsin in 1831 with a farmstead cheese factory in Koshkonong near Fort Atkinson. In 1841, Anne Pickett started the state’s first cottage industry cheese factory using milk from her neighbor’s cows. In 1858, John Smith obtained the state’s first cheese vat and made cheese at his home in Sheboygan County. But most of Wisconsin’s early cheese makers were women.

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