Farm Level Milk Prices Set Record in Back-to-Back Months

After dealing with incredible volatility for much of 2020 and 2021, dairy producers are benefiting from a sharply stronger milk market in 2022. Prices for cheese, butter, and nonfat dry milk are running significantly higher than last year and are fueling farm level milk prices. The US All Milk price set a record in March of 2022, then exceeded that level to set a new record the following month. From March to April, prices rose by $1.20 to a record level of $27.10 per cwt. Prior to March of this year, the record high milk price was set in September of 2014.

US All Milk Price

January 2014 to April 2022, $ per cwt

Source: USDA-NASS

Like most all commodities, milk prices only tell part of the story this year. Dairy producers are dealing with higher production costs as feed, fuel, fertilizer, and other inputs are also much higher. While feed rations differ across all operations, the assumed ration for the Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program has become a common metric to estimate feed costs for dairy operations. DMC feed cost includes assumed quantities of corn, soybean meal, and alfalfa hay for a representative dairy operation. 

From April 2021 to April 2022, the estimated cost of the DMC ration has increased by $2.28 per cwt or 18%. The US All Milk price has increased by more than enough offset that increase over the last year, but considering the increase in feed costs does put the historical price levels in a slightly different perspective. While milk prices are setting record highs, estimated returns above feed costs have reached levels comparable to what was seen at times in 2019 and 2020. And, they are not at the levels that were seen during 2014.

DMC Margin – US All Milk Price Minus DMC Feed Cost

January 2014 to April 2022, $ per cwt

Source: USDA-FSA

Burdine, Kenny. “Farm Level Milk Prices Set Record in Back-to-Back Months“. Southern Ag Today 2(26.2). June 21, 2022. Permalink

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Associate Extension Professor of Livestock Economics

University of Kentucky

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