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Milk Prices Rebound After February Drop
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi dairies are moving into summer's typical slowed production and low prices after experiencing the biggest price drop in history just months ago.
Dr. Bill Herndon, dairy economist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said April milk prices were $11.81 per hundredweight, which is lower 20 cents or 1.7 percent, lower than the price in April 1998. March saw milk prices rebound $1.35 from February when they bottomed out at $10.27 per hundredweight.
"The Basic Formula Price recovered somewhat from the disaster that was experienced with February's price plunge of $6, the largest one-month decline in current history," Herndon said. "This rebound was expected because most of the dairy industry believed the huge decrease was an overreaction and the price had fallen too far and did not represent the current dairy demand and supply market situation."
Milk production has increased substantially nationwide, but is slowing in the South as the weather warms. The trend continues, however, of fewer cows producing more milk.
"Milk output continues its dramatic increase throughout the United States as the spring flush ends in the South and commences in the northern regions of the country," Herndon said.
Excess milk has weakened dairy product prices, but the outlook for the next several months is good. Herndon predicted prices should stay in the $11 range through summer.
Richard Hay, Amite County agent, said conditions early in the year were favorable for his county's 25 dairies.
"We lost all our corn and fed up a lot of our hay during last summer's drought so we had some touch-and-go times this winter, but what made it easy to get through the winter was favorable weather conditions, record high milk prices and relatively low feed prices," Hay said.
The favorable market conditions caused many dairies to take steps to increase milk production. Now that prices have fallen, these costs do not have as good a return.
"We've overloaded the wagon and some of it has to spill out," Hay said. "Milk production is dropping and prices are low."
The summer heat stress has already reduced milk production drastically, and measures must be taken to reduce this stress so that production can be maintained.
Dr. Bill Tucker, supervisor of the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station's Bearden Dairy Research Center in Starkville, said many fields across the state are dry.
"Dairy cattle relying on pasture forages will require some supplemental hay or other stored forage if we don't get a substantial amount of rain soon," Tucker said.
While some parts of the state have had sufficient rain, those that are dry will soon see grass growth stop. Tucker said dry weather is usually most severe in August or September, and the early dry weather could cause problems for dairymen depending on grass for the dairy herd.