ALTOONA, Wis. (WEAU) -- Dairy farmers ended up with a chunk of coal in their Christmas stockings when it comes to the December Class 3 price. That's because that price was just $15.44 a hundred-the lowest Class 3 price of the year. And to make matters worse, it followed the highest Class 3 price for the year since the November price was $16.88 a hundred. And it's also down $1.96 from last December. But for the year, the Class 3 price averaged $16.17-much better than the 2016 average of $14.87 a hundred.
Other just fresh dairy numbers, according to the Wisconsin Ag Connection, show the number of dairy herds in the state is now at 8,801-down 503 herds from a year ago. Clark county continues to have the most herds with 823 while Marathon County is second with 532. That report shows 88% of the dairy farms are Grade A with the other 12% being Grade B. When the state started keeping track of dairy farm numbers in 1950, there were 143,000 dairy operations in Wisconsin.
But even with fewer farms, cow numbers don't go down. There are still 1.28 million milking cows in the state producing record amounts for our dairy plants. And that means lots of cheese is coming out of those plants. In November, our cheese makers made just over 279 million pounds of cheese-up almost 2 and a half percent from a year ago but a little less than in October. That's the 39th straight month that cheese production has been more than for the same month the year before. Production of all major cheese varieties was up last month, some by more than 7%. Nationally November cheese production was just over 1 billion pounds-up almost 3% from a year ago. California remains in second place in cheese production with New York, Idaho and New Mexico rounding out the top 5 cheese producing states.
The American Farm Bureau Federation will wrap up its 99th annual Convention in Nashville on Wednesday but they will welcome a high profile speaker today. President Donald Trump will be at the podium to thank the farmers for their support and re-emphasize that farmers will have a seat at the table when it comes to issues that face American farmers and ranchers. He recently appointed Farm Bureau President Zippy Duval to a special White House Commission so that agriculture's voice can be heard. The President will speak about 3 o'clock.
If you want to buy farmland in Illinois, you better bring your wallet. At a recent sale of 77 acres of highly productive cropland in Central Illinois, the bidding finally stopped at $15,850 an acre. And a neighboring farmer bought it. If you need some helping figuring that out, those 77 acres brought $1,220, 450.