Monthly Class III milk prices for 2014

In milk price terms, almost every day was Christmas for dairy producers in 2014.

When it is announced in a few days, the December Class III price of around $17.75 will be a disappointing end to an incredible year. It wasn't just one for the record books; it happened on a scale that had never been seen before.

At that guesstimated $17.75, Class III would close out the year averaging $22.37 per hundredweight – which would be exactly $4 more than the previous record in 2011.

It would also be nearly double the Class III average of just five years ago ($11.36 in 2009).

Even if December came in at just $10, the yearlong average would still be more than Class III had ever been for a single month prior to 2014.

All 11 monthly prices thus far in 2014 have been the highest in history for those months.

Nine of the 10 highest Class III prices of all time happened in 2014, including numbers 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8.

To put a $22 yearly average into perspective, keep in mind that Class III prices averaged $9.74 as recently as 2002, and were below $10 for four months in 2009.

There's no chance of a new record in 2015, but recent history suggests producers won't have to wait long.

After a new yearly Class III record was set in 1981 ($12.57), it took 15 years for a new one ($13.39 in 1996). Afterward, however, new records came in just two years ($14.20 in 1998), in six years ($15.39 in 2004), in three years ($18.04 in 2007), in four years ($18.37 in 2011), and in three more years to 2014.

The message is that while record 2014 milk prices are over, even bigger ones are probably not far away.

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