Class III milk prices this year should be $1.13 higher, on average, than they were in 2003, according to Mark Stephenson, dairy economist from Cornell University.

Speaking Monday at the annual meeting of the International Dairy Foods Association, Stephenson forecast Class III prices to reach $14 for a couple of months this summer before tailing off.

But uncertainties still exist, such as a weak El Niño forming in the Pacific Ocean, the rationing of bovine somatotropin, and the recent discovery of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy in a cow in Washington state. "I don't think BSE is going to influence dairy consumption directly," he says, but it will have a negative influence on cull-cow prices.