The coronavirus pandemic has attacked the U.S. dairy economy in waves. It showed up first via collapsing futures-based price outlooks in March, then prompted an April meltdown in the cash markets, and is now being felt most acutely in the milk checks producers will receive through July. But as of mid-May, cash and futures markets were strongly rebounding, particularly futures for the year’s second half, providing a significantly improved outlook for the nation’s severely-stressed dairy farmers.
Official U.S. dairy statistics are just starting to register the impacts of the pandemic, provisionally in product consumption data, stock levels and federal milk marketing order prices. It’s still too soon to see if the national dairy cow inventory numbers show any indication that market disruptions and the use of cooperative base plans to improve the supply-demand balance will alter the robust expansion of the national milking cow herd that the industry had entered into just before it was buzzsawed by coronavirus.