The Agriculture Department’s latest Crop Progress report shows 98% of U.S. corn has emerged, as of the week ending July 7, up from 94% the previous week and just 2% below a year ago and the five year average. 57% of the crop is rated good to excellent, down from 75% a year ago.

Meanwhile, 96% of U.S. soybeans are in the ground, up from 92% the previous week and 4% behind a year ago, and 3% below the five year average. 90% have emerged, down 10% from a year ago and 8% behind the five year average. 53% are rated good to excellent, down from 71% a year ago.

Midwest cheesemakers suggest the milk supply may be tightening, according to Dairy Market News. While there is still plenty of milk for cheese vats, there does not seem to be an abundance of spot milk offers and holiday offers were less available than in previous years. Cheesemakers understand milk intakes and components may slide lower as heat and humidity issue into the Upper Midwest. Crop and forage concerns, and the exodus of more dairy farms from the industry, may compel manufacturers to work harder in finding extra milk later in the year. For now, milk is in good balance with processing needs, and manufacturers are running facilities at or near full schedules with cheese orders to fill. Cheese stocks are adequate to meet most needs, but processors want to stay ahead of late-season demand.

The grilling season is on in the West as temperatures warm and cheese sales remain active. Contacts report that with current strong domestic prices, it’s harder to attract more international buyers. A new free trade treaty between the Mercosur countries and the European Union could impact the international cheese market moving forward. Meanwhile, cheese manufacturing is busier for some western producers and stable for others. Class III milk prices are flat and supplies are available. Cheese inventories are plentiful, with “a lot of mozzarella in warehouses.”

Butter manufacturing in the Central region is steadily slowing as cream volumes are less available, according to DMN. Cream pulls from Class II, especially ice cream makers, are strong. Bulk and print butter demands from grocery stores, wholesalers and restaurants are reported as fair to good. With summer season in full swing and milk butterfat levels at the lowest level of the year, the butter market is expected to firm in the next few days, according to some processors.

Butter manufacturing in the West has returned to normal following the holiday week. Churning is proceeding with the available cream, but some buttermakers say production is lower than expected. Retail bids are steady and solid, but a few manufacturers are trying to hold back on shipments by their own volition. They would like to see a little more cushion in available butter stocks before releasing print butter. Some manufacturers are seeing stronger than usual demand and anticipate this interest to grow as more confectionary customers ramp up their activities later this summer.

FCStone reports in its July 9 Early Morning Update that “Stories coming out of China are almost hard to believe. A lot of covering up is taking place. It’s privately estimated that over half the sows in the Shandong region have been culled. We hear veterinarians are taking bribes to not report ASF outbreaks, for example, and government officials are strongly discouraging cases being reported.”

The update adds that officials reportedly “don’t want to acknowledge official outbreaks because they want to avoid reimbursing farmers for the hogs they have culled to prevent the spread of the virus. This is leading to major cash flow issues for China’s hog producers which may impact their ability to buy feed.”

U.S. farm milk production is steady to lower due to the higher temperatures, which are reducing the comfort of the cows throughout the country, according to the USDA’s weekly update, but is enough to meet most manufacturing needs. Requests from bottlers declined due to some plants closing during the 4th of July holiday week. Cream availability was slightly higher on the week but was expected to decline as demand from ice cream makers continue to ramp up.