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Less Milk Leads to Less Butter

Churns made just 159.4 million pounds of butter in October, down 1.6% from a year ago. Stiff competition for cream and supply chain tangles likely kept a lid on output in November as well.

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According to USDA’s Milk Production report, U.S. milk production dropped to 18.5 billion pounds in October, down 0.5% from October 2020. That’s the steepest year-over-year decline in milk output since March 2019.

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Higher operating expenses and feed bills have significantly raised the cost of production for dairy producers, eating deep into milk checks. Like every industry, dairy producers must also absorb the intangible expense of increased inefficiencies caused by product shortages and logistics headaches.

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U.S. cheese production topped 1.14 billion pounds in September, scoring an all-time high in daily average output. There is clearly plenty of fresh Cheddar available, and cheesemakers are unloading some at the market of last resort in Chicago.

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The U.S. dairy herd is much smaller than once thought, and milk production barely grew at all in September. Early indications suggest milk output is once again below year-ago levels in Europe.

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USDA’s Milk Production report, released Wednesday, suggested that national milk supplies are growing at a slower rate than many analysts previously believed. Lighter milk supplies have likely helped to keep upward pressure on the markets this week.

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Despite some moderation during Friday’s spot session, gains earlier in the week left prices higher than last Friday for both butter and nonfat dry milk (NDM), pushing Class IV milk values upward.

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Hot weather weighed on U.S. milk yields and slowed milk powder output in August. As the impacts of the summer heat wave fade and bottlers settle into the school milk routine, there is more milk available for processing.

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The bulls were put out to pasture this summer, grazing in paddocks far from LaSalle Street. But fall is here, and they are back home enjoying a high energy ration, pushing several markets to their highest price in months.

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Soaring temperatures in much of the country and unusually humid conditions in the Southwest added up to a lot of stress. National average milk yields fell short of year-ago levels, an exceptionally rare occurrence.

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According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. just suffered its hottest summer ever. Soaring temperatures weighed on milk yields and tightened supplies as heat stress accumulated late in the summer and into September.

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