The all-milk price received by U.S. dairy farmers during March fell to $15.10/cwt., down 4.9% from February's levels, USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) said in its Agricultural Prices report released today.
March's all-milk price is 80¢ lower than last month's $15.90/cwt., but up $3.30/cwt., or 29%, from March 2009.
This month's price drop doesn't surprise Dr. James Dunn, an economics professor at Pennsylvania State University.
"Markets have been soft, and with recent cheese price futures, I don't think prices are going to be very good for the next couple of months,” Dunn said.
Dairy prices look better for July, Dunn said, but "unfortunately that's a long way away, given the hammering everybody took in 2009.”
Feed prices were also lower, with NASS estimating March corn prices at $3.49/bu., down from February's $3.55/bu.
By his calculations, Dunn put income over feed costs -- dairy producers' milk margin after paying their feed bill -- for March in the $9.19 range, about where it was in November 2009. He estimated December 2009's income over feed cost at $10.44, January 2010's at $9.89, and February's at $9.97.
NASS said the fluid grade milk price dropped 80¢ from last month, while the manufacturing grade milk price is 70¢ lower.
Earlier this year, NASS pegged the all-milk price for January at $16.10/cwt.
Read today's USDA Agricultural Prices report at http://www.nass.usda.gov/.
Catherine Merlo is Western editor for Dairy Today. You can reach her at email@example.com.