USDA ERS Dairy Outlook: January 2023

Chris Zoller, Extension Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Tuscarawas County, Ohio State University Extension

The United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service (USDA ERS) released its Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook on January 19, 2023.  The full report is available here: This article summarizes portions of the dairy report.

Dairy Supply and Use

The November estimate by the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) of milk production was 18.2 billion pounds. This represents a 1.3% increase from November 2021. Cow numbers were also reportedly higher – 1,000 more than the previous month and 38,000 greater than the year prior. Milk production per cow for November was 1,937 lb, an increase of 17 lb compared to November 2021.

Chart, line chartDescription automatically generatedNumbers from the NASS Agricultural Prices report, with comparisons to 2021, are summarized in the table below.


November 2022

November 2021

All Milk, $/cwt



Corn, $/bu



Alfalfa Hay, $/ton



5-State Avg. – Hay, $/ton



Soybean meal, $/ton



2023 Forecast

USDA is projecting a decline of 15,000 head of dairy cattle in 2023. This is the result of expected lower milk prices and steady to increasing feed costs. The January 31 Cattle on Feed Report from USDA will provide a better indication of future dairy numbers. Average milk production remained unchanged and is projected at 24,370 lb/cow.

USDA Projected 2023 Dairy Prices ($/cwt)


Projected Price

Class III


Class IV


All Milk


Moving Forward

Early indications are that 2023 will be a challenging year for dairy farms. While there has been a drop in fertilizer prices, many inputs look to remain steady or increase in price. This scenario will require budgeting, monitoring, and evaluation on a regular basis. 

I encourage you to have open conversations with your lender, input suppliers, and Extension professional as you work through the year. There are many resources and people available to help you be successful.