Milk prices will still be good this year, but not as good as last year.

That is the word from Bob Cropp, professor emeritus and dairy marketing specialist at the University of Wisconsin.

Cropp estimates that Class III milk prices will average $17 this year, compared to 2011’s average of $18.37. The all-milk price will average $18.70 this year, he estimates, compared to $20.10 in 2011.

Here are his quarterly projections for Class III prices:

January-March: $16.75 to $16.85

April-June: $16.60 to $16.65

July-September: $16.65 to $17.40

October-December: $17 to $17.80

There is good possibility that prices could actually do a little better than this, he says.

“Forecasting milk prices is never certain,” he says in an article prepared for Dairy Herd Management, which will appear in the February issue. “Milk prices can quickly change as new market factors emerge.

“For example, 2011 milk prices turned out much higher than anyone forecast at the beginning of the year due to much stronger exports than anticipated,” he says.

“As of now, market factors point to lower average milk prices in 2012 (than 2011),” he adds. “But, how final prices turn out will again depend upon the level of milk production, domestic sales and dairy exports.”