The Class III price ended 2005 at $13.37 — a mere 2-cent gain from November, according to USDA’s announcement of class prices on Dec. 30. However, that’s down $2.77 from the December 2004 price of $16.14.

With the December 2005 Class III price in, that puts the average Class III price for 2005 at $14.05. Although that’s down from the 2004 Class III average of $15.39, it’s still the third highest yearly average on record.

Meanwhile, the Class II price and Class IV price posted further losses in December. The Class II price fell 27 cents to $13.22 for December. The Class IV price lost 33 cents, which put it at $12.57. One year ago, the Class II and IV prices were $13.98 and $13.42, respectively.

The cheese market also ended 2005 on a weaker note. During the last week of December, block and barrel cheese prices tumbled at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. The weekly average block price for the week ending Dec. 30 was $1.3681 per pound compared to $1.4525 for the week ending Dec. 23. The weekly average barrel price for the week ending Dec. 30 was $1.34 compared to $1.42 for the week ending Dec. 23.

USDA; CME