After a year of below-average milk prices, Kentucky dairy farmers hope next year will be easier on their pocketbook.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture projects that 2004 milk prices will be similar to 2003. Let's hope they are wrong.
The futures prices indicate Kentucky farmers can expect $13.50 to $14 per early in 2004. Kentucky milk price should rise above $14 next summer and peak at more than $15 by September. On average, Kentucky farmers get about $2 above the Class III milk futures price. Class III milk is used primarily for cheese.
There are reasons for optimism. For one thing, dairy product sales improved the last half of 2003.
Another cause for optimism is the continuing decline of milk cow numbers.
Because the United States has closed the Canadian border to cattle, cull cow slaughter are higher. The result has been dairy cow slaughter prices running nearly 11 percent higher than a year ago.