New app allows dairy farmers to forecast farm-specific mailbox milk prices

mailboxes-1110112_1920Contact: Brian W. Gould, (608)263-3212, bwgould@wisc.edu

Mailbox milk prices are determined by many variables. Using general mailbox milk price indicators can be helpful, but now farmers can predict farm-specific mailbox milk prices with a new app developed by agricultural economists at University of Wisconsin-Madison and UW-Extension.

“The Mailbox Milk Predictor forecasts individualized mailbox milk prices using information provided by the producer and the latest Class III and Class IV futures settlement prices,” said Brian W. Gould, UW-Madison/Extension agricultural economist and one of the developers of the software.

Having access to farm-specific mailbox milk prices allows farmers to better estimate their cash flow when they are considering obtaining an operating loan. Farmers can also use the app to predict what their mailbox milk price might be if they change the composition of components.

“This tool allows farmers to analyze the effect of their management practices and to obtain a more accurate picture of how changing management practices and/or milk composition will impact their mailbox milk price,” said Gould.

Producers input their historical monthly mailbox milk prices and average monthly milk component profile – if desired; as the more information provided, the more farm-specific the forecast will be. The program is designed to automatically retrieve the previous day’s Class III and IV futures settlement prices and then generate a 12-month forecast of the producer’s monthly mailbox milk price based on the statistical model estimated from the historical data.

Gould noted that data input is easy and once entered it can be stored for future use. He said that in a volatile market, farmers will need to update their data for a more accurate forecast going into the future.

Currently, the Mailbox Milk Predictor program is an Excel-based spreadsheet. Producers will need Excel to run the program; they will also need an Internet connection to obtain the latest Class III and IV settlement prices. Contact Brian Gould at bwgould@wisc.edu to get a request the Mailbox Milk Predictor program.

Gould said a web-based version should be available this summer, but that should not detract farmers from using the current program because information entered now can be easily migrated to the web-based program.

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