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August 19th - Closing Futures Summary

Fresh demand concerns seemed to depress cattle futures. There was little news concerning the cattle/beef complex Tuesday, but traders apparently viewed the midsession drop in beef cutouts as a sign of things to come. Wire sources cited widespread long liquidation. October live cattle futures dove 1.32 cents to 147.22 cents/pound at their Tuesday close, while December futures tumbled 1.20 to 150.45 cents/pound. Meanwhile, September feeder futures plunged 1.82 cents to 214.25 cents/pound and November futures plummeted 2.15 cent to 212.55.

Corn futures held at moving average support. Talk of large fall production depressed corn futures in early Tuesday trading. However, spillover strength from the wheat market and technical support at short-term moving averages seemed to spur late buying. CBOT futures edged slightly higher at the end of the day. September corn settled up 1.75 cents to $3.625/bushel Tuesday afternoon, while December inched 0.75 higher to $3.7225.

Talk of old crop tightness boosted nearby beans and meal. Demand strength and cash firmness reportedly spurred buying in of September beans and meal Tuesday. Conversely, new-crop futures remained generally weak as traders focused upon improved crop ratings and expectations for a massive fall harvest. September soybean futures climbed 4.75 cents to $11.2025/bushel at their Tuesday close, while November futures dropped 5.0 cents to $10.5275. September soyoil fell 0.30 cents to 32.66 cents/pound, but September soymeal surged $7.7 to $399.8/ton.

Reports of reduced Ukraine production may have sparked wheat buying. The wheat markets also declined Monday night, but have posted a rather impressive rebound today. The bounce seemingly reflected news that Ukrainian officials have cut their wheat production forecast by 15%, with much of the drop reflecting the loss of the Crimea. Funds may also have cut short holdings. September CBOT wheat gained 3.5 cents to $5.46/bushel in late Tuesday action, while September KC wheat rallied 6.75 cents to $6.245/bushel, and September MWE wheat jumped 8.5 to $6.1675.

Hog futures proved quite mixed Tuesday. Recent cash and wholesale losses resumed Monday, but traders seemingly became more optimistic about a short-term bounce by late morning. The rally attempts were apparently capped by midday news of fresh pork losses. Nearby futures closed lower, whereas the 2015 contracts traded firmly. October hogs dipped 0.27 cents to 94.82 cents/pound as Tuesday’s pit session ended, while December dropped 0.25 cents to 88.62.

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August 19th - USDA Numbers Don't Indicate Herd Rebuilding

Pasture conditions over most of the United States are much improved over conditions at this time last year. In addition, corn prices are currently below $4 per bushel and expected to drop further Extreme drought conditions continue in parts of the Southwestern United States. The U.S. Drought Monitor from August 8, 2014 indicates relief for parts of the West, Southwest, and Plains; however, California and some areas of the Southwest are still impacted by significant areas of drought at the D4 or Exceptional Drought levels. Irrigation water is being sold at premium prices, and much irrigated acreage is being idled, cutting into California alfalfa hay, fruit, and vegetable production.

The NASS Cattle report indicated little or no increase in replacement heifer inventories for either beef or dairy herds over July 1, 2012 inventories, when the last July 1 estimates were released. This was not expected, and it indicates that any herd rebuilding is pushed into the future. At the same time, the proportion of heifers on feed is the lowest since July 2006, during the last upturn in total cow inventories.

For some context, the January 1, 2014 inventory of beef replacement heifers was up almost 4 percent over January 1, 2012 and was up almost 2 percent over January 1, 2013. However, all other heifer categories were lower over both 2012 and 2013 inventories. Dairy heifers showed the least percentage declines, but other heifer inventories were down by a whopping 7.5 percent over 2012 inventories and by 5 percent over 2013 inventories.

Source: USDA/ERS

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August 19th - Cattle Futures Rally with Reticence; Begin to Slide Again 

As of this morning, August LC had retraced 38% of the $13.45 break seen this month and returned back to the 10 day moving average, though not over it. The 10-day has crossed under the 40-day MVA for the first time since April. Technical indicators, such as stochastics, showed there was plenty of room to rally further, especially in light of the discount of August LC to cash with 9 days left to trade. But the early rally folded already, as bearish sentiment and lack of confidence combine to dash today’s early strength shortly after the pit opening.

It’s worth mentioning the marketplace really peeled the open interest out of LC on the break, with yesterday’s 308,999 contracts the smallest since last October and way off the high made over 380,000 contracts made in February. Last Friday’s Commitment of Traders report was also interesting, showing Money Market longs had bailed out while Commercial had covered shorts and gotten long. None of this information seems particularly bearish. We appear to have had a major cleansing correction, or a top, depending who you talk to.

Bears Feeling Bold

The bears have dismissed the discount of futures to cash and are focused on the promised increase in formula and contract cattle for September and October as reason enough to press. And though those numbers are two weeks from the grasp of packers, and a couple of plants in Nebraska need cattle for this week, expectations for cash this week are predominately steady to weak. Given that showlists are down everywhere but Kansas, that may be more difficult to achieve in practice than bears and the board currently believe. 

Yesterday, a big Texas plant was down due to an electrical issue but that short fall is expected to be made up on Saturday. Slaughter this week is expected at 580,000 head and packers continue to bank huge weekly P&Ls. 

Lean, Lean, Lean

Let’s not forget that demand for lean product continues to be robust with 90s near all time highs, though the round (coming off an all time high over 50% higher than a year ago) and chuck are undergoing a correction. By the way, the summertime scramble for lean beef has occurred while imported lean beef continues to pour in to the U.S., mostly from Australia, with YTD imports from there almost 40% higher than a year ago and total YTD beef imports up almost 16% from 2013. 

Line in the Sand

Today’s futures action will have bulls’ stomachs in knots. Futures halted their rally at the first line of resistance and are now holding support. It does not seem that the fundamentals are on the verge of the collapse the futures are bent on portending. But it ain’t over til it’s over, making where futures go from here the tone setter for the rest of the week. 

The Beef

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August 18th - Corn Crop Condition

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August 15th - National Feeder & Stocker Cattle Summary:
USDA-MO Dept of Ag Market News

RECEIPTS:   Auctions   Direct  Video/Internet  Total
This Week     146,300     16,800         32,800        195,900 
Last Week      137,800     62,300        48,000         248,100 
Last Year       156,800     45,900          6,600         209,300

Compared to last week, feeder cattle and calves traded weak to 5.00 lower with spots 10.00 lower.  Last week’s limit losses on Thursday and Friday in the live and feeder cattle pits spilled over into this week.  Monday’s CME session showed signs of decent gains and footing only to be a dead cat bounce as sharp losses on Tuesday and Wednesday set the tone for the week before firming up on Thursday.  Feeder cattle numbers remain limited as they have all year and demand remains very good for all offerings of feeder cattle with buyers still holding plenty of orders. 

Best demand for lightweight calves under 550 lbs is still very active as in Loup City, NE on Tuesday the market was very optimistic selling 500-535 lb steer calves right off the cow for weighted average price of 291.89.  Yearling cattle still have very good demand as in Bassett, NE on Wednesday sold near 375 head of 1000-1020 lb steers with a weighted average price of 213.21 and 106 head fancy steers weighing 1000 lbs at 223.75.  Many market watchers feel the market has been too top heavy but the market still has a lot of optimism and activity as most markets reported demand very good. 

This week’s USDA grain report had bearish estimates for corn with estimated yield of 167.4 bpa and 14.032 billion bushels both a little less than expected but setting new highs in yield and production.  Fed cattle market is struggling to hold prices near record levels as this week’s trade with live sales mostly 5.00 lower in Kansas at 155.00 with sales in Nebraska from 154.00-155.00.  On Thursday morning a few live sales in western Nebraska traded at 156.00.  Despite showing so much strength only a few weeks ago, there seems to be fears of too high too fast. 

We have also seen hog futures decline sharply as well after hitting a record high in July.  The American consumer has a great variety of competing meats to choose from and is quick to notice when budgets are tight.  With lower boxed beef prices this will hopefully spark retail buying going into Labor Day Weekend.  This week’s auction volume included 50 percent over 600 lbs and 40 percent heifers. 

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August 15th - Cargill Sees Fall in Revenue & Earnings

US meat and agrifood business Cargill has seen a 19 per cent drop in its annual earnings and a 12 per cent fall in earnings for the fourth quarter of the year.

The multinational company reported net earnings of $424 million in the fourth quarter ended 31 May, down from $483 million in the same period a year ago.

However, fourth-quarter revenues rose by two per cent to $36.2 billion.

For the full fiscal year Cargill earned $1.87 billion, a 19 per cent decrease from $2.31 billion in the prior year.

Revenues fell by one per cent to $134.9 billion. Cash flow from operations totalled $3.77 billion, down 12 per cent from $4.27 billion in fiscal 2013.

“Cargill plays an important role in helping to feed a growing world, and that inspires us to continuously improve performance,” said David MacLennan, Cargill’s president and chief executive officer.

“Though we look back on a year in which overall earnings fell short of expectations, we realised stronger operating results in several businesses including a turnaround in our global beef operations.

“We also made good progress on moves designed to sharpen efficiency and support profitable growth in fiscal 2015 and beyond.”

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August 15th - Shootin' the Bull Weekly Analysis:
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In my opinion, the tide of price movement has turned. No different than the turning of the tide of the ocean, there will be fluctuating waves, but is not anticipated to reach the apex of contract highs for quite some time.  Changes are being felt now from the consumer and their reduction in consumption is not anticipated to change quickly.  Cattle prices remain higher than any other commodity traded and this is a tough place to be by yourself.  The plummeting of energy prices and sharp decline in interest rates this week leaves many wondering what is going on?  I don't know, but I do not recommend ignoring the markets movements.  For feedyards, the aspect of corn never having reached the under $3.50 area to any extent has made recently purchased inventory appear excessively high.  Throw in the sharp decline in December and February futures, and it is perceived to create an environment of "do not bid up for inventory any more."  While this may still take place by some, the majority will be looking well down the road of "what ifs" and not focusing on what has been. 

This is the most important for the feeder cattle market.  The drastic change in feeding margins is anticipated to pull the rug out from underneath feeder prices. It is anticipated, and in my opinion only, that a significant number of cattle that should have been destined for the feedyard were diverted to either further backgrounding or pasture.  If this anticipated event materializes, it will suggest additional numbers, at significant weights, coming this fall into feedyards.  The feeder cattle charts have taken on a stair step like pattern to the down side.  I anticipate soon a large step lower to take feeders out of the $220.00 to $210.00 range with downside targets measuring to between $200.00 and $190.00 per respective '14 contract months.  I recommend that you do not tarry when making marketing decisions at this point.  If cattle are ready to ship, do not postpone in an attempt to get a higher price the next week.  If a cash forward contract is available to you, and not a terrible discount, then I recommend making that trade.  If none of this is available to you, buy put options to potentially reduce the risk of adverse price fluctuation. Agree, disagree, or indifferent, do not ignore the factors facing feedyards that is your only buyer for feeder class cattle. The incentive to bid up for inventory has been reversed or slowed greatly. 

Corn reached a 6 week high on Friday.  Regardless of whether corn rallies to any price significant, the halting of it going down is perceived quite disappointing to feedyards. 

Lastly, there is something transpiring that I do not know what it is or what may materialize from it.  The price action of commodities, equities, interest rates, and to some extent currencies, are not trading in sync as they have historically done.  This week, long term rates fell to their lowest levels of the year.  Money is a commodity and the lack of demand for it suggests a weak economy.  The supply of money is great and the demand is weak.  The perception that hedge funds have leveraged positions of all kinds due to the excess of cheap liquidity suggests the potential for an asset bubble.  I recommend being exceptionally astute of market changes and how they may impact your operation. 

Christopher B. Swift is a commodity broker and consultant with Swift Trading Company in Nashville, TN. Mr. Swift authors the daily commentaries "mid day cattle comment" and "Shootin' the Bull" commentary found on his website @ www.shootinthebull.com

An investment in futures contracts is speculative, involves a high degree of risk and is suitable only for persons who can assume the risk of loss in excess of their margin deposits.  You should carefully consider whether futures trading is appropriate for you in light of your investment experience, trading objectives, financial resources and other relevant circumstances. PAST PERFORMANCE IS NOT NECESSARILY INDICATIVE OF FUTURE RESULTS.

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August 15th - Farm & Pasture Land Values

The St. Louis Fed published its quarterly survey of Midwest and Mid-South farmland values Wednesday, stating that farm and pasture land prices had declined during the second quarter. Farmland values slipped marginally from early 2014, but suffered a 3.5% annual drop. Moreover, ranch and pastureland had posted a 7.5% reduction from their fourth-quarter 2013 peak despite soaring cattle and milk prices. 

Nevertheless, executives with a farmland investment company, as well as professors at the University of Illinois, argue that rental rates for cropland will hold steady or rise modestly in 2014. They cite the strength of the farm economy and robust farmer balance sheets, which lead to vigorous competition for acreage, as the reasons for their positive forecasts. 

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"Click Here" to view a Slide Show of Drought Monitor maps for the last 12 weeks
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August 14th - A Rout in the Cattle Futures

Picking a top or a bottom in the markets is fool's work. This year's cattle markets are no exception. Repeated calls by analysts of a top have been overridden by new tops. Each sell off has been followed by a higher high. Everyone knows that can't last forever but it is not clear the end is near. Late week action in the futures featuring limit down moves two days in a row was termed irrational by many observers. Other commentators once again called in the top and chartists see the coming week as a continuation of a downward slide.

The establishment of new highs in any commodity tends to make price action chaotic with skeptics fighting the upswing and bulls ignoring the past tops betting on the future. In the beef business, almost all participants have been wrong in some aspect of their market positions. Volatile markets are hard to read and interpret. Frequently new uncharted territory leads to confusion and mixed signals.

It is generally a good proposition following large price swings to detach from the current market moves and look at the fundamentals. We have completed 4 weeks of slaughter rates of close to 575,000 cattle per week and the box prices have stabilized in the $260 area for choice cuts.  This appears to be a balanced level of production and demand for a short national supply of beef. This production level has resulted in cash prices from $160-166 for cash cattle.  The future supplies of cattle will not be increasing. We are not at a temporary point for short supplies of cattle and awaiting larger offering in the next few months. Supplies of fed cattle may increase a small amount in the next month but behind that will be even shorter supplies and July placements will be record low following several months of smaller placements.

The beauty of free markets is everyone is able to weigh in on an opinion of the future market for cattle. There is no such thing as an irrational market. Every day each participant can make a bet on any price the participant thinks is mispriced. Eventually, all the bets on future prices will be judged by the fundamentals of the marketplace -- supply and demand.

Ag Center Cattle Report

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August 14th - From the Ground Up - Unbalanced Infrastructure in the Beef Industry

The infrastructure for the beef industry was built in the early seventies when we had 130 million cows in the U.S.. We built the feed yards to accommodate that many calves, and we built the packing houses to handle and harvest that many animals.

Today we’re at 87 million cows, and that’s created an unbalance in the industry’s infrastructure. Bill Mies is a visiting professor in Texas A&M’s Animal Science Department.

“We’re producing the same tonnage of beef that we produced back in the early seventies because of our increased efficiency, changes in our genetics and in our feeding, but we’ve still got the hotel rooms in all of those feed yards that were built in the early seventies that no longer have occupants.”

Mies says a shortage of calves creates fierce competition.

“The feed yards must compete heavily in order to get cattle to put in their feed yards. That keeps the prices at the rancher level very high. The packing industry was the same way. They had to compete, in order to get the cattle from the feed yards to harvest in their houses, and that kept the prices high to the feed yards, and so the whole system was because we had an infrastructure that was built for many more cattle than we actually do have today.”

The packers have begun to downsize.

“They have closed three big plants in the last three years. There’s another one possibly on the horizon. Feed yards are trying to find other things to do in a feed yard besides feed cattle in it. Some of them are growing Holstein heifers for dairies. Others are doing other things, but the feed yards are still at least twenty-five per cent over-built for the number of cattle we’ve got. That’s going to keep competition high for the foreseeable future, and until somebody bites the bullet and starts bull dozing down feed yards, cow/calf people are going to be in a very advantageous position.”

Mies believes the industry’s infrastructure will finally shake itself out.

“I think the packing industry is very close to getting in balance. I think one more plant would probably put them in balance. In the feed yards though, we still have considerable work to do.”

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August 13th - Beef Products Inc Reopens Plant as 'Pink Slime' Lawsuit Proceeds

Beef Products Inc will reopen a Kansas processing plant on Monday to boost production of "lean finely textured beef," which critics call "pink slime," as wholesale beef prices soar with a shrinking U.S. cattle herd.

The reopening of the Garden City, Kansas, plant comes more than two years after it was shuttered following a national media controversy about the BPI product.

The plant will collect raw chunks of meat and fat beef trimmings from a neighboring Tyson Foods slaughterhouse, package them into large bins, and then ship the refrigerated containers to BPI's processing facility in Dakota City, Nebraska, BPI said on Tuesday.

The company aims to hire 40 to 45 people for the Kansas plant, which had more than 230 employees prior to its closure.

BPI is the leading maker of the low-fat product made from chunks of beef, including trimmings, and exposed to tiny bursts of ammonium hydroxide to kill E. coli and other dangerous contaminants.

And until the spring of 2012, the company had four state-of-the art plants, more than 1,300 employees and was expanding aggressively. Few Americans realized the product was a mainstay of fast-food burgers, school lunch tacos and homemade meatloaf.

But the meat processor shuttered most of its plants and its revenues plummeted that year - a collapse that company officials blame on a series of ABC News broadcasts in 2012 that repeatedly called BPI's product "pink slime."

The company is embroiled in a sweeping defamation lawsuit in Union County Circuit Court in South Dakota against the network, star anchor Diane Sawyer and other defendants, and is seeking at least $1.2 billion in damages. Attorneys for both BPI and the network have proposed a trial date of February 2017.
The company is growing again, Craig Letch, BPI's director of food quality & food safety, said in a statement.

"Although business conditions are not yet at the point where we can resume lean beef production operations in (Kansas), this is certainly a step in the right direction," Letch said.

The size of the U.S. cattle herd has fallen to its smallest in 63 years after years of drought.

Cargill Inc, one of the nation's largest beef processors, last month closed a plant in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, due to the scarcity of cattle. The company shuttered a Texas beef plant last year.

Beef prices have been climbing as the herd shrinks. The retail price for extra lean ground beef in June hit a record high $5.48 per lb, surpassing the previous record of $5.42 in April.

The case is Beef Products Inc et al v. American Broadcasting Cos et al, First Judicial Circuit Court of South Dakota, Union County, No. 12-292.

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August 12th - National Beef Reports $21.5M Loss

Leucadia National Corp., a diversified holding company engaged in a variety of businesses, recently noted the impact of tight supplies of cattle on its subsidiary, National Beef Packing, LLC, Kansas City, Mo.

The company, which reported second-quarter net income of $65.1 million, said the company made progress across many of its businesses. But National Beef has struggled due to tight supplies of cattle. Leucadia acquired an ownership interest of approximately 79 percent in National Beef in 2012.

"With the US cattle herd at 50-year lows and herd rebuilding in its early stages, margins for National Beef and US packing industry remain challenged, and the company recorded a first-half pre-tax loss of $21.5 million," the company said in a statement. "In response to insufficient cattle supply, National Beef closed its Brawley, Calif. processing facility at the end of May, which caused part of the first half loss, but will contribute to improved results going forward.

"On positive notes, the expanded tannery is approaching full capacity and management continues to focus on additional value-added opportunities for National Beef consumer-ready beef facilities," the company added. "As a result of these initiatives, we anticipate that National Beef will see improvements in profitability over the next several years."

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August 12th - USDA Foresee a Record Harvest

Cool, ideal summer weather set high expectations for the country’s corn crop, and the USDA’s latest World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report shows just how much the crop benefited.

In Tuesday’s report, the USDA forecast 2014-2015 corn production 172 million bushels higher than last month’s report at a record 14.03 billion bushels.

“The first survey-based corn yield forecast, at a record 167.4 bushels per acre, is up 2.1 bushels from last month’s trend-based projection,” the USDA wrote.

The report also projected:

  • Record corn supplies for 2014-2015 at 15.24 billion bushels, with an increase in production partly offset by a 65-million-bushel reduction in beginning stocks;
  • An increase in corn use for ethanol and exports by 45 million bushels and 20 million bushels, respectively, for 2013-2014;
  • Slightly higher ending stocks for 2014-2015;
  • Lower season-average farm price, which is expected to range between $3.55 and $4.25 per bushel.
For soybeans, the USDA forecasts production to top 3.8 billion bushel due to a higher yield, which is projected at a record 45.4 bushels per acre. The season-average soybean price is expected to range between $9.35 and $11.35 per bushel, down 15 cents on both ends of the range.

The USDA sees reduced soybean imports and increased exports for 2013-2014.

“Imports are lowered 5 million bushels to 80 million based in part on revised import data for September – December 2013 from the U.S. Department of Commerce,” the USDA wrote. “Exports are raised 20 million bushels to 1,640 million reflecting both revised export data for September through December 2013 from the Department of Commerce and inspections data for July 2014. These changes are offset with lower residual use, leaving ending stocks unchanged at 140 million bushels.”

"Click Here" for the full report.

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August 12th - FDA Finds Positive & Negative Resistance Trends

The Food and Drug Administration released its National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS) 2011 Executive Report this week, showing both increasing and decreasing antimicrobial resistance trends. NARMS was established in 1996 as a partnership between the FDA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to track antibiotic resistance in foodborne bacteria. The Executive Report summarizes data previously released by each of the three agencies.

The annual NARMS Executive Report focuses on resistance to antibiotics that are considered important in human medicine as well as multidrug resistance (described as resistance to three or more classes of antibiotics). Under the NARMS program, samples are collected from human, food producing animals and retail meat sources, and tested for certain bacteria, specifically non-typhoidal Salmonella, Campylobacter and Enterococcus, to determine whether such bacteria are resistant to various antibiotics used in human and veterinary medicine. The report also includes data on Escherichia coli (E. coli) found in retail meats and chickens.

NARMS is critically important for monitoring trends in antimicrobial resistance among foodborne bacteria collected from humans, retail meats, and food animals. In particular, it assists FDA in making data-driven decisions on the approval of safe and effective antimicrobial drugs for animals.

Key findings from the NARMS 2011 Executive Report include:

  • Eighty-five percent of non-typhoidal Salmonella collected from humans had no resistance to any of the antibiotics tested.
  • In people, the five-drug resistance pattern “ACSSuT” (resistance to ampicillin, chloramphenicol, streptomycin, sulfonamide, and tetracycline) in Salmonella Typhimurium has declined to 19.5% in 2011 from its peak in 1997 at 35.1%.
  • During its 16-year history, NARMS has found Salmonella resistance to ciprofloxacin, one of the most common antibiotics to treat Salmonella infections in humans, to be very low (less than 0.5% in humans, less than 3% in retail meat, and less than 1% in animals at slaughter).
  • Multi-drug resistance in Salmonella from humans, slaughtered chickens and slaughtered swine was the lowest since NARMS testing began. However, multi-drug resistance in Salmonella from retail poultry meats generally increased, with slight fluctuations.
  • Erythromycin resistance in Campylobacter jejuni (C. jejuni) has remained at less than 4% in isolates obtained from humans, retail chicken and slaughtered chicken since testing began. The antibiotic erythromycin is the drug of choice for treating Campylobacter infections, more than 90% of which are caused by C. jejuni.
  • Campylobacter resistance to the fluoroquinolone ciprofloxacin has increased slightly in isolates from humans since 2005. Ciprofloxacin is not approved for use in poultry, and FDA withdrew approval for the use of enrofloxacin in poultry in 2005. Ciprofloxacin and enrofloxacin are both in the same class of drugs (fluoroquinolone).
Resistance to third-generation cephalosporins, another important drug class for the treatment of Salmonella infections, rose among isolates from retail ground turkey between 2008 and 2011 and among certain Salmonella serotypes in cattle between 2009 and 2011. In April 2012, FDA prohibited certain uses of cephalosporin drugs in cattle, swine, chickens, and turkeys. NARMS will continue to monitor these trends over time.

While some encouraging trends were observed, these findings underscore the need for continued efforts to curb antimicrobial resistance. Monitoring antimicrobial resistance through NARMS is an important component of the overall effort to minimize antimicrobial resistance and promote appropriate and judicious use of antimicrobial drugs in both humans and animals.

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August 9th - U.S. Beef & Pork Exports on Record Pace Through June

U.S. pork and beef exports remained strong in June, pushing export value for both products to a record first-half pace according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

  • Beef exports were up 5 percent in volume (106,609 mt) in June and set a new monthly value record of $631.7 million (+12 percent). First-half export value also set a new record of $3.27 billion (+16 percent). Export volume was 585,953 mt in the first half, up 8 percent from a year ago but trailing the 2011 record.
  • June pork exports totaled 181,531 metric tons (mt), up 7 percent from a year ago, while export value increased 25 percent to $585.1 million. In the first half of 2014, pork export volume (1.15 million mt, +9 percent) and value ($3.4 billion, +17 percent) achieved record highs.
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August 8th - Canadian Weekly Cattle Report:
Provided by CanFax

Fed market still strong

  • Chicago live cattle set a new record July 30 but then fell sharply.
  • Alberta packers remain short bought, facing negative processing margins.
  • Buyers have become more disciplined as basis levels have weakened.
  • Cash trade was too small to establish average prices.
  • Grid and formula priced cattle must be fetching prices comparable with the cash market because no cattle are going onto the open market.
  • Dressed bids were steady to $5 per hundredweight higher but were not enough to generate significant selling interest.
  • Even with record prices, many feedlots say cattle simply need more days on feed.
  • Packers are maintaining slaughter volumes at last year’s pace.
  • Weekly western Canadian fed slaughter to July 25 was 35,645 head, which was the largest kill in the month. However, packers could eventually be forced to slow chain speeds because of the tight supply of market ready cattle.
  • Weekly fed exports fell 14 percent to 4,913 head, which was 52 percent larger than last year.
  • Packers will be calling upon August contract cattle, which could moderate interest in the cash market.
Cows set record
  • Insatiable summer hamburger demand continued to drive non-fed prices higher.
  • D1, D2 cow prices ranged $115-$134 per cwt. to average $125.33, up $4.50. D3 prices ranged $102-$119 to average $110.67.
  • Rail grade ranged $235-$240.
  • Butcher bull prices rose $1 to average $132.44.
  • Weekly western Canadian non-fed slaughter to July 26 rose 10 percent to 5,774 head.
  • Weekly non-fed exports to July 19 rose five percent to 5,379 head.
Feeders set records
  • Strong North American buying competition continued to rally feeder prices to new records.
  • Alberta average steer prices rose $6.63 per cwt. and heifers rose $4.83.
  • Stockers 400-500 pounds jumped $15-$20 per cwt. as strong prices and dwindling pasture brought larger groups of quality calves to town.
  • Steer calves 400-600 lb. are trading more than $150 higher than the same week last year.
  • Feeders heavier than 600 lb. were $2-$4 higher than the previous week.
  • Feedlots focused mainly on securing as many yearlings as possible with little regard for quality.
  • Their anxiety is rising over anticipated tight fall feeder supplies and increased buyer competition from the United States.
  • Alberta auction volume almost doubled to 13,901 head.
  • Feeder exports to July 19 rose 36 percent to 2,288 head.
  • Some pasture conditions have deteriorated in the recent heat, which could push more cattle to market.
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July 25th - U.S. Cattle Inventory Down 3% from 2012

As of July 1, there were 95.0 million head of cattle on U.S. farms, according to the Cattle report published today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). This is the lowest inventory for July 1 since the series began in 1973.

Other key findings in the report were:

  • The 2014 calf crop is expected to be 33.6 million, of which 24.3 million were born during the first half of the year and 9.3 million are expected to be born in the last six months of 2014.
  • With tighter cattle supplies and historic cattle prices, all cattle on feed decreased to 11.6 million, down 6 percent from 2012.
  • Of the 95.0 million cattle and calves, 39.0 million were all cows and heifers that have calved.
  • Of the 39.0 million cows and heifers that have calved, 29.7 million head were beef cows and 9.3 million were milk cows.
Faced with budget reduction in fiscal year 2013, NASS discontinued the July edition of the Cattle report. The agency was able to bring the report back this year, however, following the complete reinstatement of the budget for its estimates program.
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July 25th - Cattle on Feed Report:

United States Cattle on Feed Down 2 Percent

  • Cattle and calves on feed for slaughter market in the United States for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 10.1 million head on July 1, 2014. The inventory was 2 percent below July 1, 2013. The inventory included 6.46 million steers and steer calves, down 1 percent from the previous year. This group accounted for 64 percent of the total inventory. Heifers and heifer calves accounted for 3.60 million head, down 5 percent from 2013. 
  • Placements in feedlots during June totaled 1.46 million, 6 percent below 2013. Net placements were 1.38 million head. During June, placements of cattle and calves weighing less than 600 pounds were 400,000, 600-699 pounds were 245,000, 700-799 pounds were 320,000, and 800 pounds and greater were 490,000.
  • Marketings of fed cattle during June totaled 1.85 million, 2 percent below 2013. This is the lowest fed cattle marketings for the month of June since the series began in 1996. 
  • Other disappearance totaled 75,000 during June, 19 percent above 2013.
Analysts regarded the report as positive as placements were smaller than expected and marketings were as expected. This meant the July 1 COF total was 0.6% below analysts’ average forecast. Four states, Arizona, Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota again had COF totals above a year ago. Texas had the most cattle on feed (2.490M head), although its total was down 3.0% on a year ago. Nebraska was second with 2.260M head (up 4%) and Kansas third with 1.900M head (down 6%). The trend of feeding more cattle up north was evident. Iowa placed 20% more cattle in June than a year ago, Minnesota 50% more, Nebraska 14% more and South Dakota 15% more. The weight breakdown showed a 19.2% year-on-year increase in cattle under 700s lbs (up 104,000 head) but also a 19.2% decline in placements 700 lbs and over (down 200,000 head). Four states, Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska and South Dakota, marketed more cattle in June than a year earlier.
 
Cattle on Feed Inventory in 1,000+ Capacity Feedlots as of July 1st
Millions of Head
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Number of Cattle Placed on Feed in 1,000+ Capacity Feedlots in June
Millions of Head
.

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Number of Cattle Marketed from 1,000+ Capacity Feedlots in June
Millions of Head
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Cattle on Feed by State
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July 23rd - Cold Storage Report
  • Total red meat supplies in freezers were down 5 percent from the previous month and down 13 percent from last year.
    • Total pounds of beef in freezers were down 5 percent from the previous month and down 26 percent from last year.
    • Frozen pork supplies were down 7 percent from the previous month and down 5 percent from last year. 
    • Stocks of pork bellies were down 2 percent from last month but up 100 percent from last year.
  • Total frozen poultry supplies on June 30, 2014 were down 2 percent from the previous month and down 18 percent from a year ago.
    • Total stocks of chicken were down 9 percent from the previous month and down 18 percent from last year.
    • Total pounds of turkey in freezers were up 9 percent from last month but down 19 percent from June 30, 2013.
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May 21st - As Fundamental Change Moves an Industry

It doesn't feel any different as you walk around but beneath the surface some large and monumental plates are shifting and the foundations of an industry are undergoing change. The day to day business continues and we wake every morning to new bids and offers, new grain prices, the drought, and other continuing influences but there are some big picture developments that are occurring while we move day to day.

  • Climate: There are major changes occurring in the climate. Extreme weather patterns are more severe and long lasting. Drought in some areas continues. Flooding in other regions is causing its own problems. We can debate whether it is man made or not, but large and serious weather patterns are at work and no one impacted more than agriculture.
  • Geography: Nebraska took over Texas's spot as top feeding state. The image below clearly demonstrates the loss of feeding capacities in Texas and increases else where. Processing plants follow the feeding locations for cattle and the southern plains has lost processing capacity to the northern plains -- but both have suffered plant closings and slow downs as the herd grows smaller.
  • Basis: Cattle and grain are moving towards cash markets trading basis the futures. Cattle cash trading has ceased to be reported in Texas and lightly reported elsewhere. Poor grain basis pricing, south of Amarillo, is pressuring south plains feedyards in competitiveness.
  • Sustainability: This is a term used by everyone and understood by no one. Beef retailers are being pressured to act on assuring the industry is observing best management practices to deliver a sustainable agriculture.
  • Mandatory ID: Whether it is a trading scandal involving phantom cattle or a disease threat that can't be traced, animal ID won't go away. International trade and exports will demand it or penalize our products without it.
Downsizing is no fun and lots of money has been lost in processing and feedings. Downsizing is always painful but it also can build a better and stronger industry through change.


The Cattle Report

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May 5th - 2012 Census of Agriculture Reveals Trends

There are now 3.2 million farmers operating 2.1 million farms on 914.5 million acres of farmland across the United States, according to the 2012 Census of Agriculture, released today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The agriculture census presents more than 6 million pieces of information, which provide a detailed look at the U.S. farm sector at the national, state and county levels.

"Once every five years, farmers, ranchers and growers have the unique opportunity to let the world know how U.S. agriculture is changing, what is staying the same, what's working and what we can do differently," said Dr. Cynthia Clark, the retiring head of USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service, which administered the survey. "Today, we can start to delve into the details." 

Census data provide valuable insight into the U.S. farmer demographics, economics and production practices. Some of the key findings include:
 

  • Both sales and production expenses reached record highs in 2012. U.S. producers sold $394.6 billion worth of agricultural products, but it cost them $328.9 billion to produce these products. 
  • Three quarters of all farms had sales of less than $50,000, producing only 3 percent of the total value of farm products sold while those with sales of more than $1 million - 4 percent of all farms - produced 66 percent. 
  • Much of the increased farm income was concentrated geographically or by farm categories. 
  • California led the nation with 9 of the 10 top counties for value of sales. Fresno County was number one in the United States with nearly $5 billion in sales in 2012, which is greater than that of 23 states. Weld County, Colorado ranked 9th in the top 10 U.S. counties. 
    • The top 5 states for agricultural sales were California ($42.6 billion); Iowa ($30.8 billion); Texas ($25.4 billion); Nebraska ($23.1 billion); and Minnesota ($21.3 billion). 
  • Eighty-seven percent of all U.S. farms are operated by families or individuals. 
  • Principal operators were on average 58.3 years old and were predominantly male; second operators were slightly younger and most likely to be female; and third operators were younger still. 
  • Young, beginning principal operators who reported their primary occupation as farming increased 11.3 percent from 36,396 to 40,499 between 2007 and 2012. 
  • All categories of minority-operated farms increased between 2007 and 2012; the Hispanic-operated farms had a significant 21 percent increase. 
  • 144,530 farm operators reported selling products directly to consumers. In 2012, these sales totaled more than $1.3 billion (up 8.1 percent from 2007). 
  • Organic sales were growing, but accounted for just 0.8 percent of the total value of U.S. agricultural production. Organic farmers reported $3.12 billion in sales in 2012, up from $1.7 billion in 2007. 
  • Farms with Internet access rose from 56.5 percent in 2007 to 69.6 percent in 2012. 
  • 57,299 farms produced on-farm renewable energy, more than double the 23,451 in 2007. 
  • 474,028 farms covering 173.1 million acres were farmed with conservation tillage or no-till practices. 
  • Corn and soybean acres topped 50 percent of all harvested acres for the first time. 
  • The largest category of operations was beef cattle with 619,172 or 29 percent of all farms and ranches in 2012 specializing in cattle. 
Conducted since 1840, the Census of Agriculture accounts for all U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. The Census tells a story of how American agriculture is changing and lays the groundwork for new programs and policies that will invest in rural America; promote innovation and productivity; build the rural economy; and support our next generation of farmers and ranchers.
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February 14th - USDA Long-Term Projections

Despite lower prices for many agricultural products in the near future, USDA is projecting U.S. farm income to remain historically high through 2023. Analysis for the report was conducted prior to completion of the Agricultural Act of 2014, and was based on the assumption of continuation of policies in the 2008 Farm Bill. Projections range from long-term economic growth, global production and consumption trends, global trade trends, commodity prices, farm income and more.

USDA projects global economic growth to average 3.2 percent annually over the next decade, with stronger growth projected in developing countries, including China, India, and countries in Africa and Latin America. The U.S. economic growth is projected to average 2.6 percent over the next decade. “Steady global economic growth supports longer term gains in world food demand, global agricultural trade, and U.S. agricultural exports,” according to the report.

While prices for many of the major crops are projected to decline in the next few years, long-term growth in global demand, a low-valued U.S. dollar, and demand for biofuel, will hold prices for corn, oilseeds and other major crops above pre-2007 levels, according to the report.

As a result of recovering from high feed prices in recent years and drought, USDA is projecting livestock production and per capital red meat consumption to increase through 2023.
While beef production is projected to decline through 2016 as producers retain heifers to grow the overall herd, production is expected to begin increasing in 2016. USDA is projecting that beef cow numbers will increase from 29 million today to more than 33 million in 2022-2023. The total cattle inventory is projected to expand to approximately 96 million in 2023, and increasing slaughter weights add to increased beef production projections. USDA is projecting beef cattle prices to increase through 2017, then fall but increase again through 2023.

With regard to global beef trade, USDA is projecting world meat consumption to increase by about 1.9 percent annually from 2014-2023 and world meat trade to increase by 22 percent during that same period. Stagnate beef export projections from Australia resulted in the top four beef exporting nations, according to USDA, to be Brazil, India, the United States and Australia. On the import side, China and Hong Kong are projected to increase beef imports by 55 percent in the next decade as China’s middle class grows from 300 million today to an expected 640 million by 2020.

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February 13th - USDA Projects Net Farm Income to Fall in 2014

While USDA’s latest farm income projections indicate an overall decline in net farm income of around 26.6 percent in 2014, there are some positive projections in the report, especially for livestock producers.

“Livestock receipts are up marginally,” said USDA Chief Economist Joe Glauber. “They’re up at $183.4 billion. It’s the first time in a long while that we’ve seen livestock and crop receipts at around roughly the same magnitude.”

Crop receipts are projected at $189.4 billion in 2014, down more than 12 percent and back to pre-2011 levels. According to the report, declines in cash receipts are expected for almost all major crop categories, including food grain, feed, oil, fruits/tree nuts, and vegetables/melons. Large anticipated declines in the 2014 price for corn are impacting farmers’ decisions regarding other major crops. According to the report, use of corn for ethanol is expected to rise in 2014. Additionally, USDA is projecting declines in hay, wheat and soybeans receipts as well.

USDA is projecting a 0.7 percent increase in livestock receipts in 2014. For cattle and calves, steady receipts are projected due to lower production levels. Additionally, USDA is forecasting a decline in beef and veal export quantities in 2014.

Overall, net farm income, earnings only from current year production, is forecast to be $95.8 billion in 2014, down 26.6 percent from 2013 and projected to be the lowest since 2010. Net cash income, which includes income from carryover stocks from 2013, is forecast at $101.9 billion, down 22 percent from 2013.

For just the second time in the last 10 years and the first time since 2009, USDA is projecting a decline in production expenses, with an expected $3.9 billion decrease in 2014.

“Expenses are down,” Glauber said. “We’re forecasting them at $310 billion. That’s down almost $5 billion from last year, and that’s largely lower feed costs.”

Feed expenses are expected to decline by $6.6 billion, 11.3 percent, but livestock and poultry purchases are projected to increase, driven by an expected double-digit increase in the price of feeder steers due to tight supplies and strong beef demand. The overall expenses for the two major livestock-related expenses, however, are projected to fall by 6.1 percent, or $5.1 billion.

Other farm expense projections include a 4.7 percent decline for the three major crop-related expenses – seed, fertilizer and pesticides; a 9.6 percent decline in net rent to non-operators; a 4.6 percent increase in total labor; and a 3.2 percent increase for miscellaneous expenses, including things like animal health and breeding expenses, contract production fees, irrigation water, and general production and management decisions.

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All Cattle & Calves... State Rankings & Change
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January 1, 2014 Inventory vs. 2013 Inventory... Compiled from USDA National Agricultural Statistical Service Data
Rank
State
2014
2013
% Change
2014 as
% of Total
 
1
Texas
10,900,000
11,300,000
-3.54%
12.42%
2
Nebraska
6,150,000
6,300,000
-2.38%
7.01%
3
Kansas
5,800,000
5,850,000
-0.85%
6.61%
4
California
5,250,000
5,300,000
-0.94%
5.98%
5
Oklahoma
4,300,000
4,200,000
+2.38%
4.90%
6
Missouri
3,800,000
3,650,000
+4.11%
4.33%
7
Iowa
3,700,000
3,850,000
-3.90%
4.22%
8
South Dakota
3,650,000
3,850,000
-5.19%
4.16%
9
Wisconsin
3,350,000
3,450,000
-2.90%
3.82%
10
Montana
2,550,000
2,600,000
-1.92%
2.91%
11
Colorado
2,480,000
2,600,000
-4.62%
2.83%
12
Minnesota
2,280,000
2,390,000
-4.60%
2.60%
13
Idaho
2,190,000
2,370,000
-7.59%
2.50%
14
Kentucky
2,090,000
2,240,000
-6.70%
2.38%
15
North Dakota
1,770,000
1,790,000
-1.12%
2.02%
16
Tennessee
1,760,000
1,830,000
-3.83%
2.01%
17
Arkansas
1,660,000
1,600,000
+3.75%
1.89%
18/19
Florida
1,620,000
1,660,000
-2.41%
1.85%
18/19
Pennsylvania
1,620,000
1,610,000
+0.62%
1.85%
20
Virginia
1,530,000
1,610,000
-4.97%
1.74%
21
New York
1,450,000
1,400,000
+3.57%
1.65%
22
New Mexico
1,290,000
1,340,000
-3.73%
1.47%
23
Oregon
1,280,000
1,280,000
+0.00%
1.46%
24
Wyoming
1,270,000
1,290,000
-1.55%
1.45%
25
Ohio
1,250,000
1,230,000
+1.63%
1.42%
26
Alabama
1,240,000
1,220,000
+1.64%
1.41%
27
Illinois
1,130,000
1,120,000
+0.89%
1.29%
28
Michigan
1,120,000
1,120,000
+0.00%
1.28%
29
Washington
1,100,000
1,150,000
-4.35%
1.25%
30
Georgia
1,000,000
1,020,000
-1.96%
1.14%
31
Mississippi
930,000
910,000
+2.20%
1.06%
32
Arizona
920,000
900,000
+2.22%
1.05%
33
Indiana
870,000
810,000
+7.41%
0.99%
34
North Carolina
810,000
820,000
-1.22%
0.92%
35
Utah
800,000
770,000
+3.90%
0.91%
36
Louisiana
790,000
780,000
+1.28%
0.90%
37
Nevada
455,000
460,000
-1.09%
0.52%
38
West Virginia
380,000
410,000
-7.32%
0.43%
39
South Carolina
360,000
355,000
+1.41%
0.41%
40
Vermont
260,000
270,000
-3.70%
0.30%
41
Maryland
182,000
192,000
-5.21%
0.21%
42
Hawaii
130,000
132,000
-1.52%
0.15%
43
Maine
85,000
85,000
+0.00%
0.097%
44
Connecticut
47,000
48,000
-2.08%
0.054%
45
Massachusetts
39,000
39,000
+0.00%
0.044%
46
New Hampshire
32,000
33,000
-3.03%
0.036%
47
New Jersey
29,000
31,000
-6.45%
0.033%
48
Delaware
16,000
18,000
-11.11%
0.018%
49
Alaska
10,000
12,000
-16.67%
0.011%
50
Rhode Island
5,000
4,600
+8.70%
0.006%






-
Total
87,730,000
89,299,600
-1.76%
 100.00%
.

Beef Cows... State Rankings & Change
.
January 1, 2014 Inventory vs. 2013 Inventory... Compiled from USDA National Agricultural Statistical Service Data
. Rank
. State
2014
2013
. % Change
2014 as
% of Total
 
 
 
 
1
Texas
3,910,000
4,015,000
-2.62%
13.46%
2
Missouri
1,820,000
1,757,000
+3.59%
6.27%
3
Oklahoma
1,805,000
1,754,000
+2.91%
6.22%
4
Nebraska
1,797,000
1,805,000
-0.44%
6.19%
5
South Dakota
1,635,000
1,688,000
-3.14%
5.63%
6
Montana
1,476,000
1,506,000
-1.99%
5.08%
7
Kansas
1,414,000
1,328,000
+6.48%
4.87%
8
Kentucky
1,012,000
1,028,000
-1.56%
3.48%
9
North Dakota
943,000
922,000
+2.28%
3.25%
10
Iowa
885,000
925,000
-4.32%
3.05%
11
Arkansas
882,000
851,000
+3.64%
3.04%
12
Florida
877,000
908,000
-3.41%
3.02%
13
Tennessee
864,000
912,000
-5.26%
2.97%
14
Colorado
700,000
715,000
-2.10%
2.41%
15
Wyoming
694,000
694,000
+0.00%
2.39%
16
Alabama
671,000
651,000
+3.07%
2.31%
17
Virginia
657,000
686,000
-4.23%
2.26%
18
California
600,000
610,000
-1.64%
2.07%
19
Oregon
516,000
527,000
-2.09%
1.78%
20
Georgia
480,000
490,000
-2.04%
1.65%
21
Mississippi
477,000
486,000
-1.85%
1.64%
22
Louisiana
450,000
454,000
-0.88%
1.55%
23
Idaho
445,000
510,000
-12.75%
1.53%
24
New Mexico
387,000
390,000
-0.77%
1.33%
25
North Carolina
360,000
364,000
-1.10%
1.24%
26
Illinois
359,000
360,000
-0.28%
1.24%
27
Minnesota
350,000
375,000
-6.67%
1.21%
28
Utah
325,000
315,000
+3.17%
1.12%
29
Ohio
293,000
290,000
+1.03%
1.01%
30
Wisconsin
240,000
260,000
-7.69%
 0.83%
31
Nevada
226,000
231,000
-2.16%
 0.78%
32
Washington
209,000
221,000
-5.43%
 0.72%
33
Indiana
192,000
191,000
+0.52%
 0.66%
34
West Virginia
191,000
200,000
-4.50%
 0.66%
35
Arizona
178,000
175,000
+1.71%
 0.61%
36
South Carolina
174,000
174,000
+0.00%
 0.60%
37
Pennsylvania
170,000
155,000
+9.68%
 0.59%
38
Michigan
114,000
113,000
+0.88%
0.39%
39
New York
105,000
90,000
+16.67%
 0.36%
40
Hawaii
68,800
69,900
-1.57%
0.24%
41
Maryland
38,000
41,000
-7.32%
 0.13%
42
Vermont
12,000
12,000
+0.00%
 0.041%
43
Maine
11,000
11,000
+0.00%
0.038%
44
New Jersey
8,000
9,000
-11.11%
0.028%
45
Massachusetts
6,000
6,500
-7.69%
0.021%
46
Alaska
4,300
4,900
-12.24%
0.015%
47
Connecticut
4,000
6,000
-33.33%
0.014%
48
New Hampshire
3,000
3,500
-14.29%
 0.010%
49
Delaware
2,800
4,000
-30.00%
 0.010%
50
Rhode Island
1,500
1,500
+0.00%
0.005%






-
Total
29,042,400
29,295,300
-0.86%
100.00%
.

February 4th - Rabobank Report: Structural Changes Needed to Keep U.S. Beef Industry Competitive

Consumption shift requires better cost control as U.S. becomes a “Ground Beef Nation”

Rabobank has published a new report on the U.S. cattle industry, calling for changes in the way beef is produced in order for the industry to remain competitive. In the new report, “Ground Beef Nation,”, Rabobank says that changing consumer preferences and a production model tailored to production of top-shelf steaks has put the U.S. cattle industry in a position of losing market share to competitive proteins.

“Under the existing business model, the U.S. cattle industry manages all fed beef as if it were destined for the center of the plate at a white table cloth restaurant,” notes Rabobank cattle economist Don Close. “The industry is, essentially, producing an extraordinarily high-grade product for consumers who desire to purchase a commodity. More than 60% of U.S. beef consumption is ground product. If the U.S. cattle industry continues to produce ground beef in a structure better suited to high-end cuts, the result will be continued erosion of market share.”

The report goes on to explore the trend of changing consumer preferences and the role pricing plays in the notable decline in beef consumption. The industries that produce competitive proteins such as pork and chicken have grown and become more efficient, making the products more readily available at competitive prices.

“The industry must change to a production model that determines the best end use of an animal as early as possible, in order to compete in a ‘ground beef nation’,” notes Close. “A new system for end-use categorization that influences calf selection, cattle management, production costs, and feeding regimen throughout the life of the animal is vital to keeping beef competitive with other choices at the meat counter.”

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USDA Cattle Inventory Report... January 1 Cattle Inventory Down 2 Percent

All cattle and calves in the United States as of January 1, 2014 totaled 87.7 million head, 2 percent below the 89.3 million on January 1, 2013. This is the lowest January 1 inventory of all cattle and calves since the 82.1 million on hand in 1951.

All cows and heifers that have calved, at 38.3 million, were down 1 percent from the 38.5 million on January 1, 2013. This is the lowest January 1 inventory of all cows and heifers that have calved since the 36.8 million head in 1941. 

  • Beef cows, at 29.0 million, were down 1 percent from January 1, 2013. 
  • Milk cows, at 9.2 million, unchanged from January 1, 2013. 
Other class estimates on January 1, 2014 and the change from January 1, 2013, are as follows:
  • All heifers 500 pounds and over, 18.8 million, down 2 percent. 
  • Beef replacement heifers, 5.5 million, up 2 percent. 
  • Milk replacement heifers, 4.5 million, unchanged. 
  • Other heifers, 8.7 million, down 5 percent. 
  • Steers weighing 500 pounds and over, 15.4 million, down 3 percent.
  • Bulls weighing 500 pounds and over, 2.0 million, down 1 percent. 
  • Calves under 500 pounds, 13.3 million, down 4 percent. 
  • Cattle and calves on feed for slaughter in all feedlots, 12.7 million, down 5 percent. 
  • The combined total of calves under 500 pounds, and other heifers and steers over 500 pounds outside of feedlots was 24.7 million, down 3 percent. 
 Calf Crop Down 1 Percent

The 2013 calf crop was estimated at 33.9 million head, down 1 percent from 2012. This is the smallest calf crop since the 33.7 million born during 1949. Calves born during the first half of 2013 are estimated at 24.7 million, down 1 percent from 2012.

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