Looks like dairy farmer are good at one thing and that's producing more milk. USDA reported Monday in its monthly Milk Production report that May 2012 production topped May 2011 production by 2.1%. In addition, USDA revised the April report noting that in April 2012 dairy farmers actually produced 3.5% more milk than the same month the year before - or an extra 38 million pounds than previously reported.
Production per cow for the 23 major states reporting averaged 1,924 pounds for May, 22 pounds above 2011 and the number of milk cows on farms in those states hit 8.52 million head. That's up 77,000 head of cattle over a year ago, but down 3,000 head from April 2012.
Milk per cow has been running above 2011 levels in every USDA report this year. That may be due in part to milder weather over the winter, which helped keep production per cow higher. Falling cow numbers in the latest report could be a positive sign for prices.
USDA projects the 2012 all milk price in the $16.85 to $17.25 per cwt. range. Some improvement in 2013 should lift the all milk price to the $17.25 to $18.25 per cwt. range.
The survey is based on questionnaires mailed near the end of May and additional information is reported by telephone.