2010 dairy cow earning power improving slightly

The “cow” economy is making a slow recovery. Using USDA’s monthly milk production and price estimates for the first half of 2010, the “average” gross income from milk sales generated by an “average” cow is up about $283/cow from the same period in 2009 (Table 1).

The “average” U.S. cow produced 10,672 lbs. of milk so far in 2010, up about 297 lbs. from January-June 2009. USDA’s preliminary year-to-date 2010 all-milk price is $15.38/cwt., up $3.48/cwt. from 2009. Thus, the “average” cow generated $1,640 in milk sales so far in 2010, compared to $1,357 for the same period in 2009.

Year-to-date 2010 estimated gross income trails the $1,964 generated in the first half of 2008, and $1,704 during the first half of 2007.

Multiply $283 by 9 million cows, and January-June 2010 gross income is up $2.55 billion over the first half of 2009. However, at $24.3 billion, total U.S. 2009 gross income from milk sales was down more than $10 billion compared to 2008’s $34.8 billion.

There’s a $788 spread between the state with the lowest gross milk income per cow so far in 2010 (Missouri, at $1,178) compared to the highest (Florida, at $1,966).

Gross milk income per cow, January-June, 2009 & 2010