News & Resources

November DMC Margin Above Assistance Threshold; 2021 Payments Expected

January 5, 2021

The monthly margin for November under the Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program was $11.87 per cwt, the second-highest monthly margin of 2020. Margins are still expected to fall in 2021, with levels that trigger federal assistance payments for much of the year.

The November U.S. average all-milk price was $21.30 per cwt, the highest of all 2020 monthly milk prices, but that month’s DMC feed-cost calculation was $9.43 per cwt of milk, also the year’s highest. The highest margin in 2020 – and the highest since November 2014 – was $12.41 per cwt in July, when the all-milk price was $20.20 per cwt, but the feed cost was just $8.09 per cwt.

High margins and prices are expected to be distant memories for the foreseeable future, according to current dairy futures. Milk prices are not anticipated to rise much above $18.00 per cwt, with DMC margins projected to remain well below $9.50 per cwt, at least through next summer. Growth in dairy cow numbers and milk production are accelerating. Meanwhile, the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to keep food service use of dairy depressed for some time, and the outlook for continued USDA food purchases does not currently appear able to be fully adequate to bridge this growing gap between milk and supply and demand.

The cost side is also expected to be challenging: Increased prices of corn and soybean meal are projected to boost the DMC feed cost calculation well above $10.00 per cwt during this same forecast horizon.

The DMC information page on NMPF’s website offers educational resources to help farmers better use the program.