The Class III price advanced to $13.39 for January — a 2-cent gain versus December 2005, according to the USDA’s announcement of class prices on Feb. 3. That’s still 75 cents less than the January 2005 price of $14.14.

The Class II price posted a 3-cent gain, which put it at $13.25 for January. However, the Class IV price posted further losses. It fell 37 cents — to $12.20. One year ago, the Class II and IV prices were $13.04 and $12.52, respectively.

Block and barrel prices fell on hard times during the last full week of January. Blocks settled at $1.2375 per pound at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange on Jan. 27 — down 11.25 cents for the week. Barrels closed at $1.21 — down 10 cents for the week. It’s been more than two-and-one-half years since prices were this low.

Class III milk futures also posted double-digit losses. On Jan. 27, all of the February through September 2006 contracts were sitting 19 to 32 cents lower than the previous week.

Cheese prices barely budged during the week ending Feb. 3. Blocks climbed a notch to $1.24 on Jan. 31. They were still at that position as of Feb. 3. Barrels were unchanged at $1.21 the entire week ending Feb. 3.

USDA; CME