The USDA’s monthly World Ag Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report was released Dec. 8. The milk production forecast for 2023 was lowered from last month due to slower expected growth in milk per cow. The forecast for 2024 was also lowered due to lower milk cow numbers and reduced milk per cow.

Schmitz audrey
Editor / Progressive Dairy
  • At 226.9 billion pounds, the 2023 production forecast was lowered 200 million pounds from last month’s estimate. If realized, 2023 production would be up less than 0.18% from 2022.

For 2023, based on recent prices, cheese and butter price forecasts are lowered while the nonfat dry milk (NDM) price is raised. The whey price is unchanged. The projected 2023 Class III price was lowered 5 cents to $17.05 per hundredweight (cwt). The 2023 Class IV price forecast was lowered 10 cents to $19.10 per cwt. The projected all milk price for 2023 is lowered 10 cents to $20.60 per cwt.

  • In its forecast for 2024, the USDA estimated milk production at 229 billion pounds, down 1 billion pounds from a month earlier. If realized, 2024 production would be up about 0.9% from 2023. There’s an additional milking day in the leap year.

Compared to a month ago, the 2024 cheese price forecast is lowered, while butter, NDM and whey prices are raised. As a result, the projected Class III milk price was reduced 85 cents to $16.85 per cwt, the Class IV price was raised 5 cents to $18.90 per cwt, and the all-milk price was lowered 55 cents to $20.25 per cwt.

Beef outlook

For 2024, the beef production forecast was raised due to higher cattle slaughter and higher dressed weights.

Cattle price forecasts are lowered for the fourth quarter of 2023 and 2024 on recent price movements and as larger expected placements of cattle in late 2023 are marketed in 2024. The fed cattle price forecast for 2023 was estimated at $175.55 per cwt, with prices reaching $178 per cwt in the fourth quarter. The early forecast for 2024 was $178 per cwt.


Feed supply, price forecasts

The USDA’s Crop Production and WASDE reports provided potential insights into dairy feedstuff supplies and prices:

  • Corn: This month’s 2023-24 U.S. corn outlook called for higher exports and lower ending stocks. Exports were raised 25 million bushels to 2.1 billion reflecting the pace of sales and shipments to date. With no other use changes, corn ending stocks are reduced 25 million bushels to 2.1 billion. At $4.85 per bushel, the projected season-average corn price received by producers was unchanged from the December forecast but is down $1.59 (24%) from the 2022-23 average of $6.54 per bushel.
  • Soybeans: The 2023-24 U.S. season-average soybean price received by producers was forecast at $12.90 per bushel, unchanged from last month’s forecast. It compares with an average price of $14.20 per bushel in 2022-23. Soybean meal prices were forecast to average $390 per ton, up $10 from last month’s forecast but $62 less than the 2022-23 average of $452 per ton.
  • Cottonseed: This month’s 2023-24 U.S. cotton forecasts include lower production, mill use and ending stocks. USDA’s December Crop Production report adjusted the cottonseed harvest lower to 3.98 million tons, down about 12% from 2022 and the smallest harvest in more than two decades.