The USDA’s monthly World Ag Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report, released Jan. 12, reduced both 2022 and 2023 U.S. milk production estimates from last month.

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Editor / Progressive Dairy
  • At 226.8 billion pounds, projected milk production for 2022 was lowered 200 million pounds from last month, with lower expected milk per cow. If realized, 2022 production would be up 500 million pounds (0.2%) from 2021 and up less than 1.6% from 2020. (The USDA’s preliminary December 2022 milk production estimates will be released on Jan. 25.)

For 2022, product and milk class price estimates were mostly unchanged from last month. As a result, the projected 2022 annual average Class III price was cut a penny to $21.94 per hundredweight (cwt). The projected Class IV price was reduced 3 cents to $24.47 per cwt. The 2022 all-milk price forecast was cut a dime to $25.55 per cwt.

  • At 229.2 billion pounds, the 2023 production estimate was lowered by 300 million pounds from last month’s forecast, with a smaller expected average cow inventory for the year. If realized, 2023 production would be up about 1% from 2022.

For 2023, the price forecasts for all components were lower with expectations of weak domestic demand and price pressure in international markets. Compared to earlier estimates, the projected 2023 Class III price was reduced 95 cents to $18.85 per cwt, while the Class IV price forecast was cut 85 cents to $19.25 per cwt. The projected 2023 all-milk price was reduced 90 cents to $21.60 per cwt.

The USDA’s Cattle report, which will be released Jan. 31, will provide an indication of producer intentions for retaining dairy heifers for addition to the breeding herd.

Beef production, price outlook

The 2023 beef production estimate was raised with higher expected slaughter of steers and heifers, as well as cows and bulls. The increase was slightly offset by lower carcass weights.


Potentially affecting cull cow prices, the fed cattle price forecast for 2022 was raised slightly from last month to $144.40 per cwt, $22 higher than the 2021 average. Fourth-quarter 2022 prices were expected to average $153 per cwt. The estimated 2023 annual average price for fed cattle was $158.50 per cwt, up $2.50 last month’s forecast.

The USDA’s Cattle report will also provide an indication of the number of cattle available for placement during 2023 as well as producer intentions for retaining heifers for the breeding herd.

Feed price, production forecasts

In addition to the WASDE report, the USDA also released monthly and annual Crop Production reports and a quarterly Grain Stocks report on Jan. 12, providing potential insights into dairy feedstuff supplies and prices.

  • Corn: This month’s 2022-23 U.S. corn outlook called for reduced production, food, seed and industrial use, feed and residual use, exports and ending stocks. At $6.70 per bushel, the projected season-average corn price received by producers was unchanged from last month’s forecast but is up 70 cents (12%) from the 2021-22 average of $6 per bushel and about $2.17 (48%) more than 2020-21 average of $4.53 per bushel.

Corn production in 2022 was estimated at 13.73 billion bushels, down 9% from the 2021 estimate. The average U.S. yield was estimated at 173.3 bushels per acre, 3.4 bushels below the 2021 record-high yield of 176.7 bushels per acre. Area harvested for grain was estimated at 79.2 million acres, down 7% from the 2021 estimate.

Corn stored in all positions on Dec. 1, 2022, totaled 10.8 billion bushels, down 7% from a year earlier. Of the total stocks, 6.75 billion bushels are stored on farms, down 7% from a year earlier.

  • Corn silage: U.S. production was estimated at 129 million tons for 2022, down 1% from the 2021 estimate. The U.S. silage yield was estimated at 18.7 tons per acre, down 1.4 tons from 2021. Record-high silage yields were estimated in Georgia, Illinois, Ohio, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming. Area harvested for silage was estimated at 6.86 million acres, up 6% from the 2021 estimate. Record-low acres harvested for silage were estimated in Alabama, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
  • Soybeans: The 2022-23 U.S. soybean supply and use outlook called for lower exports but lower supplies and ending stocks. Soybean production in 2022 totaled 4.28 billion bushels, down 4% from 2021. The average yield per acre was estimated at 49.5 bushels, down 2.2 bushels from 2021. Harvested area was up slightly from 2021 to 86.3 million acres. Soybeans stored in all positions on Dec. 1, 2022, totaled 3.02 billion bushels, down 4% from a year earlier.

The U.S. season-average soybean price received by producers for 2022-23 was forecast at $14.20 per bushel, up 20 cents from last month’s projections and up 90 cents from 2021-22 and $3.40 more than the 2020-21 average.

The 2022-23 soybean meal price was projected at $425 per ton, up $15 from last month’s forecast but down about $15 from the $440 per ton average in 2021-22.

  • Hay and forage: The USDA’s annual Crop Production report provided an update on a number of forages, as well as hay inventories and new alfalfa seeding.

All hay stored on U.S. farms as of Dec. 1, 2022, totaled 71.9 million tons, down 9% from a year earlier and the lowest December inventory since 1954. Record-low hay inventories were estimated in California, Colorado and Nebraska.

Production of alfalfa and alfalfa-mixture dry hay in 2022 was estimated at 48 million tons, down 3% from the 2021 total. Harvested area at 14.9 million acres, was 2%, while average yield was estimated at 3.22 tons per acre, down 0.01 ton from 2021. Record-low harvested acres were estimated in Arkansas, California, Delaware, Rhode Island and Tennessee, while record-high harvested acres was estimated in Nevada. Record-high yields were estimated in Pennsylvania and Vermont.

Production of all other hay in 2022 totaled 64.8 million tons, down 9% from the 2021 total. Harvested area at 34.6 million acres, was down 2%, with average yield estimated at 1.87 tons per acre, down 0.13 ton. Record-low harvested acres were estimated in Indiana, Nebraska, Oregon and Wisconsin, while record-high harvested acres were estimated in Utah. Record-high yield was estimated in Utah. Record-low production was estimated in Maryland and Wisconsin, while record-high production was estimated in Arizona and Utah.

The USDA includes 17 states in a forage estimation program. Haylage and greenchop production was converted to 13% moisture and combined with dry hay production to derive the total forage production.

Total 2022 all haylage and greenchop production was 28.2 million tons, of which 17.4 million tons were from alfalfa and alfalfa mixtures. The 17-state total for all forage production was 75 million tons. Of this total, 38.5 million tons were produced from alfalfa and alfalfa mixtures.

Record-low alfalfa haylage production was estimated in California, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York and Pennsylvania. Record-low alfalfa forage was estimated in California, Missouri, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas and Vermont. Record-low other haylage production was estimated in South Dakota and Washington, while a record high was estimated in Illinois and New York. Record-low other hay forage was estimated for the U.S. as well as Nebraska, while a record high was estimated in Pennsylvania.

Finally, growers seeded 1.68 million new acres of alfalfa and alfalfa mixtures during 2022, up 2% from 2021. Record-low alfalfa dry hay seedings were estimated in California, Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, West Virginia and Wisconsin, while record-high seedings were estimated in Maine and North Carolina.

  • Cottonseed: Affecting cottonseed, this month’s 2022-23 U.S. cotton forecasts included higher production and ending stocks estimates. As a result, the cottonseed harvest was estimated at 4.455 million tons, down 868,000 tons (16%) from 2021.