Tumbling cheese prices sent February milk prices on a rapid downward spiral. The Class III price plunged $1.19 — to $12.20 for February, according to the USDA’s announcement of class prices on March 3. That’s also $2.50 less than February 2005.

The Class II and IV prices also incurred losses during February. The Class II price fell 63 cents — to $12.62. The Class IV price tumbled $1.10 — to $11.10. One year ago, the Class II and IV prices were $13.36 and $12.74, respectively.

Block prices dropped below government support prices the week ending Feb. 24. On Feb. 24, blocks settled at $1.1275 per pound at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange — down 3.75 cents for the week. It also is less than the support price of $1.1314, the price at which the Commodity Credit Corporation is willing to purchase cheese. It also marked the lowest settlement price since May 14, 2003.

Barrel cheese also tumbled, but hovered a breath above support for the week ending Feb. 24. It closed at $1.105 per pound on Feb. 24 — down 4 cents for the week, though still above the CCC purchase price of $1.1014 per pound.

On March 2, block cheese inched down a quarter of a cent from the previous day to $1.1225. Barrels were unchanged at $1.105 per pound.