Here is a look at news affecting your dairy's bottom line before the Memorial Day weekend.

Natzke dave
Editor / Progressive Dairy
Lee karen
Managing Editor / Progressive Dairy

June 2024 Class I base price improves

The Federal Milk Marketing Order (FMMO) advanced Class I base price is moving higher.

At $20.08 per hundredweight (cwt), the June 2024 advanced Class I base price is up $1.62 from May 2024 and $2.07 more than a year ago. It’s the highest Class I base price since February 2023.

Through the first six months of 2024, the Class I base prices average $18.83 per cwt, still a three-year low for the period.

Class I zone differentials are added to the base price at principal pricing points to determine the actual Class I price in each FMMO. With those additions, June Class I prices will average approximately $22.90 per cwt across all FMMOs, ranging from a high of $25.48 per cwt in the Florida FMMO to a low of $21.88 per cwt in the Upper Midwest FMMO.


The spread in the monthly advanced Class III skim milk pricing factor ($6.29 per cwt) and advanced Class IV skim milk pricing factor ($8.88 per cwt) narrowed for June to $2.51 per cwt, the smallest gap since October 2023.

Based on Progressive Dairy calculations, the Class I mover calculated under the “higher-of” formula would also have resulted in a Class I base price of $20.57 per cwt, about 49 cents more than the actual price determined using the “average-of plus 74 cents” formula.

March fluid milk sales down 4.1% from last year

Fluid milk sales for 2024 remain on par with last year’s sales. According to data from the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service:

  • Total sales: March sales of packaged fluid milk products were estimated at 3.6 billion pounds, down 4.1% from the same month a year earlier. At 10.9 billion pounds, year-to-date sales of all fluid products were up 0.2%.
  • Conventional products: Monthly sales totaled 3.35 billion pounds, down 4.5% from the same month a year earlier. Fat-free or skim milk sales took the biggest hit at down 17.9% compared to March 2023. Year-to-date 2024 sales were estimated at 10.18 billion pounds, the same amount as this time last year. Flavored whole milk sales are up 10.4% at 184 million pounds.
  • Organic products: March sales totaled 257 million pounds, up 0.5% from a year earlier. Whole milk increased by 12% from the month before. Organic represented about 7% total fluid product sales in March and year to date.

The U.S. figures are based on consumption of fluid milk products in FMMO areas, which account for approximately 92% of total U.S. fluid milk sales, and adding the other 8% from outside FMMO-regulated areas. Sales outlets include food stores, convenience stores, warehouse stores/wholesale clubs, nonfood stores, schools, the food service industry and home delivery.

Vitaliano: Cheese exports boost U.S. dairy market

U.S. cheese exports posted a 20% year-over-year increase during 2024’s first quarter, according to National Milk Producers Federation’s Peter Vitaliano. Summarizing dairy markets in the May 2024 Dairy Management Inc./National Milk Producers Federation Dairy Market Report, he said about 8.1% of total domestic cheese production was exported during the first quarter and noted the highest percentage of U.S. cheese production exported on an annual basis has been 7.1%.

Domestic cheese prices are showing strength following a year of mostly weak performance, butter prices have been mostly closer to $3 per pound since the beginning of 2022, and feed prices have moderated considerably.

For more information on commercial use, dairy trade, milk production, product inventories, prices and margins, view the May 2024 Dairy Market Report.

GDT index up 3.3%

The price index of dairy product prices sold on the Global Dairy Trade (GDT) platform increased 3.3% in an auction held May 21. Compared to the previous auction, prices for individual product categories were mostly higher, with the exception of cheddar cheese, which remained the same. Mozzarella and lactose posted the largest gains at 9.8% and 8.1%, respectively. Butter increased 5.1%, while anhydrous milkfat, skim milk powder and whole milk powder were up about 3% or more.

The GDT platform offers dairy products from several global companies: Fonterra (New Zealand), Darigold, Valley Milk and Dairy America (U.S.), Arla (Denmark), Arla Foods Ingredients (Denmark) BMI (Germany), Kerry Dairy (Ireland) and Solarec (Belgium).

The next GDT auction is June 4.

RAFI offers beginning farmer stipends

Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI) is now accepting applications for 2024 Beginning Farmers Stipends. This year, stipends will support the success of Historically Underserved Farmers and Ranchers (HUFR) as defined by the USDA NRCS. The funds can be used to help reduce financial barriers and cover farming startup and/or production costs. Individual applicants may request between $3,000-$5,000 in funding.

RAFI has been administering granting programs for small-scale to midscale farmers for many years, and the Beginning Farmers Stipend program is now in its second year along with U.S. Caribbean Farmers Network grants and Infrastructure Grants (a program now in its fifth year).

Since 2020 when the Infrastructure Grants were launched, RAFI has distributed more than $875,570 in grants to farmers.

The application period is open until 5 p.m. EST on Friday, May 31.

For more information and to apply, visit the website for the RAFI Beginning Farmers Stipends program.

NASS releases Census of Agriculture Congressional District Profiles and Rankings report

The USDA NASS released the Congressional District Profiles and Rankings report from the 2022 Census of Agriculture. This summary presents data by congressional district from the 118th Congress that includes land, farms, market value of agricultural products sold, rankings and producer characteristics.

“These profiles present local data in a fast and easy-to-read format, allowing producers and all data users to quickly view and evaluate information,” said NASS acting Administrator Joseph Parsons. “Congressional District Profiles and Rankings from the ag census are only available every five years. Providing ag census information at a congressional district level, in addition to state, county and nationwide data, allows data users to compare districts to each other, shows the value of agriculture in a district and informs policymakers.”

Additional products from the census will be released this summer and fall.

In preparation for the 2027 Census of Agriculture, NASS is already asking for content change suggestions and for new producers who did not receive a 2022 Census of Agriculture form last year to sign up to be counted in future censuses and surveys.

In other news: Dairy farm worker in Michigan diagnosed with H5N1

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported a second human case of H5 bird flu tied to a dairy farm worker in Michigan. As with the case in Texas, the individual is a worker on a dairy farm where H5N1 virus has been identified in cows, and the patient only reported eye symptoms. Based on the information available, this infection does not change CDC’s current H5N1 bird flu human health risk assessment for the U.S. general public, which the agency considers to be low. However, the CDC does recommend precautions for people with exposure to infected or potentially infected animals.