**Exceptionally good weather heading into February has Southern California strawberry growers optimistic about the coming season.

The California Strawberry Commission reports acreage in Oxnard was down slightly this season, but higher-yielding varieties have resulted in record levels of production year over year.

Well-Pict merchandizing manager Jim Grabowski tells thepacker.com, they were harvesting in late January with volume rising steadily.

He says berry size, flavor and color are excellent and the weather has been good too.

**U.S. beef exports continue to remain strong, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation.

The Federation says the decline in U.S. beef exports from the record levels of 2018 are partially attributable to lower shipments to Japan, but they don’t expect that to be the case for long.

Federation president Dan Halstrom says January import numbers are big. Packers and traders are selling to Japan, especially on frozen.

Halstrom adds there are also new beef export records for Korea and Taiwan, which he expects to continue.

**Analysts are forecasting better milk prices this year with some even suggesting significantly higher prices.

A milkbusiness.com report agrees that milk prices will be better if current Class III futures prices will be able to hold current levels.

Exports in December put a nice finishing touch on a year that showed milk prices moving back to levels not seen since late 2014.

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