Record-breaking activity in the cheese and butter markets last month made for strong gains in March milk prices.

According to the USDA’s announcement of class prices on Apr. 2, the Class III price soared $2.60 — putting it at $14.49 for March. That also is a staggering $5.38 higher than the March 2003 Class III price.

Bolstered by strong butter prices, the Class IV price also made an impressive gain. It climbed $1.89 — to $14.10. That also is $4.31 higher than a year ago.

The Class II price also gained $1.89 — putting it at $14.79 for March.

Cheese prices at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange made strong advances during March. And on March 19, they officially topped $2 for the very first time. Prices like that are equivalent to about $19 for Class III milk. That may lead you to wonder why $19 milk did not materialize for March. The reason is that the Class III price usually lags behind the spot cheese market.

However, the wait for much higher milk prices may soon be over. All indications suggest the April Class III price could come in near $18 — or even higher. And that’s just the start. Given current dairy-market conditions, some analysts are even predicting the Class III price will peak above $20 in August.