Stunning Class I Fluid Milk Volatility


Farmers are keenly aware of the ups and downs of milk prices. But to see the volatility in graphic terms can be stunning.

The Central Federal Milk Marketing Order April report, shows the wild, roller coaster ride farmers have been on. The Central Order covers the nation’s mid-section, including all or parts of 10 states.

Over the past 16 years, the Class I base price has been a three-year, peak-to-peak price cycle. The peaks have typically been $21/cwt (with a $24.47 all-time high in May 2014). The bottoms were less than $12 in 2003, 2006 and 2009, when the price crashed to $9.43 in March 2009. Note: The last time the Class I price was this low was 1978, or three decades, when it bottomed at $9.33. Since then, the market valleys have been closer to $15/cwt.

On the upside, Class I base prices averaged $23.29/cwt in 2014. “Additionally, the 2014 average Class I base price was more than double the comparable price registered five years earlier--$11.48 in 2009,” say the Central Order regulators. 

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