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November USDA Milk Production Report Highlights Growth

The USDA Milk Production report illustrated a 1.3% increase in November’s milk production over the previous year. Following suit, cow numbers also showed growth with an increase of 38,000 additional head over the previous year and 1,000 additional head over October.

As revealed in the report, Texas led the way in year-over-year growth, up 30,000 head. Idaho also saw positive cow growth, up 12,000 head. Both California and Michigan saw a decrease in cow numbers.

Other states of note include South Dakota, up 10.8% on the strength of 19,000 more cows, and Georgia, up 13.1% with 10,000 more cows.

Phil Plourd, head of market intelligence at Ever.Ag, said that the variability of milk production performance and cow number additions and subtractions reflects all sorts of differences seeen from state-to-state and region-to-region.

“Texas has been in growth mode for a while, with more cows coming to support additional processing capacity,” he says. “It’s hard to make generalizations because of so many different factors at work including feed situation, handler ‘base/excess’ programs, plant profitability, labor issues and transportation costs, to name a few.”

Tanner Ehmke, a leading dairy economist with CoBank, says that probably by the middle of next year, cow numbers will shrink after seeing growth stall for several months. He says that with new cheese processing capacity coming online in the Texas Panhandle, that will add more tailwind to the herd growth in Texas.

“Same thing in South Dakota and all of these growth areas are cheese-producing states,” he says.

“All the milk is going to new cheese capacity. That's underpinning local prices and firming their basis.”

Another story that continues to unfold is the shift of herds inland.

“This long-term trend of migration from the coastal areas to the central states where costs are lower will continue,” Ehmke says.

Driving the reduction of cows leaving coastal states stems from water scarcity issues and feed availability.


December 21, 2022



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