The meager 4-cent gain in the Class III price during January did not repeat itself during February. Instead, the February Class III price fell to $9.66 — 12 cents less than January.

The Class IV price did not lose as much ground as it had during January. Still, it slipped below $10. The USDA announced the February Class IV price at $9.81 — 26 cents less than January. The Class II price, however, nearly doubled its loss compared to last month. During February, the Class II price plunged 63 cents — to $10.66.

The USDA’s announcement of class prices means mailbox prices for February will continue to disappoint producers.

And with the way cheese and butter prices have been fairing lately, disappointing mailbox prices are likely to extend beyond February. At the close of trading on Feb. 27, block cheese settled a penny lower at $1.0025 per pound on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Meanwhile, barrel cheese price settled at $1.025 per pound — also a 1-cent decline from the previous trading day. Grade AA butter prices settled 2 cents higher at $1.04 per pound at the close of trading on Feb. 27.

The USDA does not anticipate strong milk prices this year. According to the February 25 "Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook," the USDA forecasts Class III milk will average between $9.80 and $10.50 for the year. The Class IV price, meanwhile, is forecast to average between $9.90 and $10.70 for the year.

USDA; CME