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August 29th - National Feeder & Stocker Cattle Summary:
USDA-MO Dept of Ag Market News

RECEIPTS:  Auctions   Direct  Video/Internet  Total
This Week     143,200     32,400        30,500        206,100 
Last Week     138,400     70,100       146,200        354,700 
Last Year      165,200      31,800       203,800       400,800

Compared to last week, feeder cattle and calves again this week traded unevenly steady.  A number of auctions from the Northern Plains through the Mid-West had yearlings and calves steady to 5.00 higher, while just as many steady to 5.00 lower.  In the Southeastern markets calves traded mostly steady to 5.00 lower.  Record prices have leveled off the past few weeks but it’s hard to call demand any lighter as cattle buyers remain very active and optimistic for all classes of feeders.  At the Huss Platte Valley Auction in Kearney, NE sold 286 head of 900-925 lb steers with a weighted average price of 216.75 and at the Hub City Livestock auction in South Dakota sold a pot load of value added (drug free) yearling steers weighing 815 lbs at 229.50.  In Mitchell, S.D. on Thursday at the Mitchell Livestock Auction sold two pot loads of all-natural steers averaging 952 lbs tipping the scales at 216.00. 

Last week’s Cattle on Feed report wasn’t quite as bullish as expected, but we still have less cattle than a year ago and it’s worth mentioning that we will still have a tight feeder cattle supply as expectations are that supplies will continue to be tight through the end of the year and into 2015.  Going on the last three weeks we have seen a very volatile Live and Feeder Cattle futures trading, only to see good gains run out of steam the next day with triple-digit losses.  The futures markets can be very emotionally charged and extremely volatile and take no prisoners.  Slaughter cattle weights are on the rise and will likely continue to remain at record levels.  Often we lose sight of the fact that even though we have a tight supply of feeders we have the genetics and the efficiency to put on a lot more pounds of beef on the animal than ever before getting us to record weights.  Low corn prices will only add to the cause with a record corn crop right around the corner should keep the pressure on corn prices. 

This week’s corn crop report showed 73 percent rated good to excellent which is up 1 percent from last week, compared to a year ago the corn crop was rated at 59 percent good to excellent.  Looking at some Regional weighted averages in North Central Regions 600-700 lb steers 1.50 higher at 244.95, 700-800 lb steers mostly steady and 800-900 lb steers mostly 5.00 lower.  In the South Central Regions 500-600 lb steers near 3.00 higher with 700-900 lb steers selling 2.00-3.00 higher.  Wish everyone a happy and safe Labor Day Weekend with good grilling weather in store for everyone.  This week’s reported auction volume included 51 percent over 600 lbs and 38 percent heifers.

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August 29th - Closing Futures Summary

Rising cash bids spurred late CME cattle gains. Although wholesale prices proved quite weak again Thursday, CME futures rallied rather strongly Friday. That almost surely reflected news of steady-higher packer bids for fed cattle before the three-day weekend. October live cattle futures ended Friday 1.32 cents higher at 151.42 cents/pound, while December futures jumped 1.25 to 153.95. Meanwhile, September feeder futures leapt 1.50 to 218.65 and November futures soared 2.45 to 215.37.

An increased production forecast seemed to depressing corn futures Friday. The corn market slipped Thursday night, then moved lower in response to news that the International Grain Council had boosted its global production forecast 4.0 million tonnes to 973 million. Nearby futures also seem to fail at technical resistance. September corn ended the week 2.75 cents lower at $3.59/bushel, while December dropped 4.5 to $3.6475.

The soy complex posted divergent moves Friday. Old-crop demand seemed to boost the expiring bean and meal contracts Friday morning. New crop beans were under pressure, whereas meal quotes edged upward. Meanwhile, losses posted in Asian palm oil prices apparently triggered a fresh breakdown in the soyoil pit. September soybean futures vaulted 15.75 cents to $10.895/bushel before the three-day weekend, while November futures slumped 4.5 cents to $10.2425. September soyoil plunged 0.60 cents to 32.04 cents/pound, whereas September soymeal surged $6.3 to $439.5/ton.

A larger IBC forecast also weighed on the wheat markets. There was little fresh news about the Ukraine-Russia situation, which may undercut Thursday’s late rally. In addition, the IGC also boosted its 2014 global wheat production forecast 11.0 million to 713 million tonnes. Thus, wheat futures moved mostly lower to end the week. September CBOT wheat fell 6.25 cents to $5.5025/bushel at its Friday settlement, while September KC wheat dove 8.75 cents to $6.2625/bushel, but September MWE wheat rose 3.0 to $6.15.

Hog traders clearly expect a September cash bounce. Although cash hog prices remained weak Thursday, pork cutout values rebounded modestly from Wednesday’s big losses. They continued rising at midsession Friday, thereby encouraging bullish traders to look for much more of the same in early September. October hogs spiked 2.65 cents to 98.12 cents/pound at their Friday settlement, while December rallied 1.62 to 92.00.

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August 29th - Canadian Weekly Cattle Report:
Provided by CanFax

Fed steers down

  • The Canfax weighted average price of fed steers was $159.97 per hundredweight last week, down $4.37.
  • Alberta direct cattle sales saw light trade with dressed prices $6-$7 per cwt. lower than last week. Live packer bids were reported to be $4 per cwt. lower and did not attract any feedlot attention.
  • Sale volumes on heifers were too light to establish a repeatable market trend. This week’s Alberta fed show list was among the largest since early spring, but trade volumes were limited by a modest cash offering.
Basis weakens
  • The weekly cash to futures fed basis weakened from +$2.29 to -$3.90. Western Canadian fed slaughter for the week ending Aug. 16 was up 14 percent from the previous week at 37,172 head while year to date volumes are nine percent larger at 1.11 million head. Canadian fed cattle exports to the U.S. for the week ending Aug. 9 were 72 percent larger than the previous week at 5,693 head, and year to date are steady at 234,639 head.
  • Cattle placed in U.S. feedlots in July dropped seven percent from last year as prices deterred some feedlots from purchases. American ranchers placed more cattle and marketed fewer than anticipated, which was mildly bearish for live cattle futures on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.
Bulls, cows down
  • D1 and D2 cows were down $2.88 to $123.63. D3 cows averaged $110.90, and slaughter bulls were down slightly to $136.55. Rail grade animals traded in a range of $234-$239.
  • Butcher cows moved off historic highs over the past two weeks.
  • Butcher bulls traded generally $1 lower this week but prices remain $45 per cwt. higher than the same time last year.
  • On a weekly basis, this is the first time non-fed exports have trended above year-ago volumes since the end of March.
  • Strong salvage values will continue to bring cows to market. Non-fed slaughter volumes are anticipated to increase, but supplies are expected to remain manageable.
  • Grilling season should begin to wind down after Labour Day.
Feeder steers steady
  • Feeder steer prices were virtually unchanged from last week, and feeder heifers were up $2.78.
  • The August feeder contract has declined 3.5 percent since posting a high of $223.02 US July 30. Weakness in the feeder complex has had limited impact on cash prices locally as basis levels have strengthened.
  • Calf and light weight stocker prices continue to have mixed trade. Feeders more than 700 pounds saw a modest rebound in prices from last week. Annual highs have occurred during the second half of the year in nine of the past 14 years. The high occurred in August four times during those nine years.
  • A lot will depend on supply, but further upside to the yearling market could be limited by a $10 decline in December and February live cattle contracts over the last three weeks.
  • Alberta auction volumes totalled 27,118 head last week, and year to date volumes were up six percent from last year.
  • Canadian feeder exports to the U.S. for the week ending Aug. 9 totalled 2,139 head, up 16 percent from the same time last year. Cow-calf pairs traded at $1,835-$2,750.
Cutout down
  • Canadian cut-out values for the week ending Aug. 16 traded $8-$9 per cwt. lower with sales volume down 16 percent from a year ago. Demand remained sluggish despite the upcoming Labour Day long weekend.
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August 29th - Millions in Agriculture Lost as Rails Neglect Grain Surplus

North Dakota farmers are experiencing a crisis situation with their grain shipments being held up by rails’ prioritization of the transport of oil, causing millions of dollars in agricultural losses and slower production for food companies like General Mills.

“If we can’t get this stuff out soon, a lot of it is simply going to go on the ground and rot,” said Bill Hejl, soybean, wheat and sugar beet farmer, to The New York Times. Farmers expect the upcoming harvest will yield a record crop of wheat and soybeans, meaning the problem is only expected to get worse.

The region’s railroads are occupied by shipments of oil, and as of Aug. 22, reports indicate that the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway (the state’s largest railroad) had a backlog of 1,336 rail cars waiting to ship grain, while Canadian Pacific railroad had a backlog of 1,000 cars.

Companies like General Mills that depend on these shipments have lost at least two months of production time and four percent of its output, while food company Cargill has also reported a net drop in earnings. If farmers remain unable to move their crops, studies suggest that they stand to lose $95 million, on top of millions in lost revenue earlier this year. 

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August 29th - Slaughter Cattle Weights Are Climbing

Steer carcass weights averaged 879 pounds in the most recent reporting week, up 15 pounds from a year ago and a record level for August. 

Weights increase seasonally into the fall, but the ongoing surge raises concern about the currentness of feedlot sales.

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August 29th - Live Cattle Futures Dramatically Narrow Basis

Aug LC may not have much time left but it is making its mark with what time does remain. Though we won’t know until noon, when the CME clangs the bell signaling the expiration is complete, Aug LC will likely make history, ending its run at the highest level in CME LC Futures history. Not bad when you consider this market was thought to be dead and buried only a week ago. 

Yesterday’s rally also occurred on brisk volume of nearly 57,000 contracts and a very modest increase in open interest.

Now We Get Our Basis Change?

What’s also very different is what’s happened to basis this week. Are we getting our “normal” basis change a month late? For the first time in 2014, futures, not cash, led the market higher. Last night a major packer paid $155 in central Nebraska for today’s kill, fully steady with last week’s Nebraska trade and discount to Aug LC trading at $155.80. That’s right; Aug LC is now premium to all cattle that traded week and almost $3 premium to last week’s average. 

Is this a fluke or will Oct LC fall in Aug LC’s footsteps, and finally put the short hedger on the defensive? The decision to feed cattle longer and delay marketings until the fall made by some cattle feeders this summer can’t be undone. But if futures have decided they’ve priced the Sep/Oct low already, then it might be time for the market to focus on what comes next. 

This isn’t to say cash prices, fed and boxed beef, won’t continue to correct this fall, nor that packers won’t use the hammer of more captives heavily in the next couple of months. But if Oct LC decides to trade par to premium to cash, the entire tone of the market and the behavior of the complacent short hedger will be altered in a significant way. 

Is Aug LC Heralding a Changing of the Guard? 

Until this week, LC futures have behaved in an exaggerated version of a realizing bull market, not rallying until forced, kicking and screaming, by the cash market. 

Aug LC’s performance marks a remarkable change. Reminding traders, fundamentally, we’re still in a major long-term bull market that won’t be easily or readily dismissed. Bringing to mind another Tom Petty song…

Well I know what's right, I got just one life
in a world that keeps on pushin' me around
but I'll stand my ground, and I won't back down

The Beef

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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 27th - Patent Issued to K-State for Alleviating Pain Research in Cattle

A U.S. patent was recently awarded for technology created by researchers at Kansas State University that improves the health and welfare of beef cattle and other ruminant animals suffering from lameness and following castration, dehorning and other painful but necessary management procedures.

U.S. Patent No. 8,791,105, "Methods for Alleviating Chronic Pain & Improving Performance of Cattle Undergoing Dehorning or Castration," was awarded to the Kansas State University Research Foundation, a nonprofit corporation responsible for managing technology transfer activities at the university.

The patent is for research conducted while at Kansas State University by former faculty member Hans Coetzee, now a professor of clinical pharmacology at Iowa State University, and Butch Kukanich, associate professor of anatomy and physiology at Kansas State University.

According to the announcement, the patent covers administering meloxicam alone or administering a combination of meloxicam and gabapentin to help alleviate acute and chronic pain and improve the performance of cattle. Researchers found that combinations of meloxicam and gabapentin improved the welfare of cattle by reducing the severity of lameness. Meloxicam alone improved weight gain after dehorning and reduced the incidence of bovine respiratory disease after castration.

"Once meloxicam was orally administered to beef cattle prior to these common procedures, the cattle gained more weight and had slower incidence of bovine respiratory disease because it allowed them to be more comfortable and less stressed," Kukanich said.

A significant benefit of this patented technology is that it reduces reliance on antibiotics to treat and control diseases in cattle. This reduces the risk of antibiotic resistance selection and has positive implications for both human and animal health, the announcement said.

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August 27th - WTO Rules Against USDA on COOL

In a decision reported in the WSJ, the World Trade Organization declined to accept the USDA rules on COOL. The decision surprised no one and will once again place government officials in an untenable and embarrassing position of having wasted hundreds of millions of dollars over a trade policy that the industry and our trade partners recognized as wrongheaded.

The COOL legislation will always be remembered as a low point in public policy, combined with legislative jingoism run amok, and topped off with bureaucratic bumbling that borders on idiocy. The program has been a nightmare for those compelled to follow the rules and has been a unnecessary price burden on every consumer who has purchased a piece of beef. Polls have consistently confirmed that very few consumers ever knew of the programs existence.

It was initiated by well intended ranchers who sought recognition for a beef product raised, grown and fed in the United States. This is all fine but it does not require Congress to pass a law authorizing it. It simply requires enough product to attract a consumer following and a processing partner with a label setting forth its advantages and benefits for the public.

It has resulted in hostile trade retaliation from Mexico and Canada. Both countries were once primary trade partners on the purchase of American beef. The COOL rule has stimulated cattle feeding operations in Mexico by encouraging Mexican ranchers to stay at home and feed their cattle rather than suffer the large discount in price and export them to the U.S.. This could not have happened at a worse time when U.S. cattle operators need access to all supplies of replacement cattle.

The decision has not been officially announced but has crept into the pricing of Mexican cattle over the past two weeks. Feeding firms with advance knowledge started purchasing Mexican cattle with no COOL discounts. The decision is expected to be formally announced in September. Our government would like to delay the announcement past the mid term elections.

Ag Center Cattle Report

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August 26th - Corn Crop Condition

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August 25th - Australian DVM Finds That Gauze Helps with Dehorning Healing

For years, veterinarian Geoffry Fordyce had been thinking that perhaps applying gauze to the wound after dehorning cattle would help with healing. The University of Queensland Senior Research Fellow finally found the time to launch a study and, with some funding from MLA, discovered he was right.

“The main opportunity I saw was trying to replace the use of chemicals to control flies, and find a method to control bleeding.”

The project found that applying cotton gauze surgical swabs significantly reduced haemorrhage and infection rates in the dehorning wounds affected by ‘frontal sinus exposure’.

The research, carried out following UQ animal welfare guidelines, involved dehorning 50 six-month-old Brahman heifers, selected because of their likelihood to experience sinus exposure. The older calves were also chosen as this would most likely be the age when cattle were dehorned on the larger stations.

Twenty-six did not have the swabs applied and 24 did. The infection rate after surgery was 11 per cent for those that weren’t patched, compared to 1 per cent for those that were.

“The swabs also reduced the extent of haemorrhage, which we expected, as it is a standard surgical practice. The swab creates a matrix to give a clot structure and strength.”

Dr Fordyce said it would not have an effect on pain but it certainly would help with healing and perhaps the mortality rate.

A recent study published earlier this year found that there was a 2.1 per cent death rate related to dehorning. “I expect most of that is due to bleeding,” he said.

One of the problems identified was that a high number of swabs were dislodged as soon as the heifers were released from the branding cradle.

“I think at this stage the best advice is don’t try to go too fast. Before you release the animal make sure the swab is attached by holding it on for 15 to 20 seconds; the blood will clot and the wound will heal very quickly. If you let the cattle up straightaway and the swab is still wet, it will dislodge.”

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August 25th - USDA Raises Beef & Pork Prices Forecasts

Retail prices for many U.S. meats, already at record highs, continue to rise on a combination of drought and disease, but overall food cost increases remain near long-term averages, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said on Monday.

The agency now forecasts pork, beef and veal prices to rise by 6.5 to 7.5 percent in 2014, up from 5.5 to 6.5 percent forecast a month ago. The overall "meats, poultry and fish" category will rise by 4 to 5 percent.

Overall U.S. food inflation - items bought in grocery stores and in restaurants - will be 2.5 to 3.5 percent in 2014, in line with historical norms, and is expected to be slightly lower at 2 to 3 percent in 2015, the USDA said.

Since 1990, U.S. grocery store prices have risen by an average of 2.8 percent annually.

The agency said that although food-at-home prices increased more in the first half of 2014 than in the whole of 2013, the lower prices outlook for commodities such as corn and soybeans, as well as rising animal inventories, should provide relief.

Record high pork prices are partly due to the impact of a virus that has killed millions of piglets, as well as the higher cost of pork imports from Europe. For this year through July, retail pork prices jumped almost 11 percent.

Meanwhile, the lowest U.S. cattle inventories in more than 60 years are expected to drive up wholesale beef prices by 10 to 11 percent this year, with much of that increase passed down to consumers.

"The ongoing drought in California has raised concern over rising produce prices. However, the California drought has not yet had a discernible impact on national prices," the USDA said.

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August 25th - Cattle Markets Move Past Summer Highs

About a year ago I wrote an article entitled “Cattle markets move past summer lows”.  The title of this article reflects how far we have come and serves as a reminder that the current cattle and beef market situation is the result of a market run that began over a year ago.  Feeder and fed cattle prices increased through the second half of 2013 and were joined by boxed beef values early in 2014 to push on to the unprecedented recent levels.  Fed cattle and wholesale beef markets have pulled back from summer highs; fed cattle ended last week at $152/cwt, down $12/cwt from daily highs three to four weeks ago and Choice boxed beef was at $249/cwt, down $14/cwt. from late July.  There are questions of whether markets went too far, too fast and are due for a significant correction or whether current market levels are the new reality of market fundamentals.  The answer to that has several components, some of which remain to be seen.

Tight supply is the main driver and supplies will continue to get tighter.  The latest monthly Cattle on Feed report shows that the feedlot inventory of 9.837 million head was down 1.9 percent from last year, and was the smallest August 1 feedlot inventory since 2009.  July placements were 1.56 million head, down 7.4 percent for one year ago and the lowest July placement total in the current cattle on feed data series back to 1996. July placements under 700 pounds were up 3.8 percent over last year while placements over 700 pounds were down 14.6 percent compared to one year ago. April through July feedlot placements were down 6.4 percent year over year and within that total, placements of cattle weighing less than 700 pounds were up 5.9 percent while placements weighing over 700 pounds were down 13.4 percent.  Fall feedlot supplies will remain tight as feedlots are feeding fewer heavy weight feeders at the current time.

Slaughter numbers this year confirm the impact of tight supplies.  Year to date steer slaughter is down 3.1 percent and heifer slaughter is down 8.5 percent leading to a 5.1 percent year to date decrease in yearling slaughter.  Since July 1, steers slaughter has been down 9 percent and heifer slaughter was down 16.3 percent, leading to an 11.6 percent year over year decrease in yearling slaughter over the period.  Combine that with a 14.4 percent decrease in cow slaughter so far this year (beef cow slaughter is down 17.3 percent year to date) and the fundamental reason behind record cattle and beef prices is apparent. The heifer and cow slaughter decreases are strong indications of initial herd rebuilding.

Derrell S. Peel -- Oklahoma State University

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August 23rd - Argentina Suspends Beef Exports for 15-days to Contain Domestic Prices

The Argentine government has decided to restrict beef exports for a 15-day period seeking to stem the rise of prices in the domestic market. The decision was confirmed by Cabinet Chief Jorge Capitanich and sparked criticism by business leaders in the sector with some voices saying the strategy will have “no positive effects.”

The Domestic Trade office run by Augusto Costa will reduce permits authorizations for beef shipments. Over the past two weeks, cattle prices have jumped 10-15%, an increase likely to reach consumers as well.

According to Capitanich, the government is conducting talks with the sector’s leaders “to set mechanisms that allow to agree on measures that allow to create conditions to control the flow of exports and the domestic market supply” in order to avoid an increase of prices.

“That is what the State efficiently pretends to intervene (in) to guarantee the supply in sustainable conditions and convenient prices,” Capitanich said Thursday morning in his daily briefing to the press at the government house, adding beef prices have climbed 54% since the beginning of the year, a hike that “has no relation with costs’ structure.”

“The rise responds to speculation fueled constantly by media, economists and opposition representatives that have devaluation perspectives and a destabilizing interest that led to the retention in the cattle market”, argued Capitanich. He added there is also “speculation resulting from the increase of exports with the European Union toll and trade perspectives with the Russian Federation.”

Echoing the news, head of the CICCRA Argentine beef trade chamber Miguel Schiariti criticized the government’s decision saying “it will be insignificant and will have no positive effect.”

The measure, Schiaritti told reporters, represents the “same ineffectiveness and ignorance over the (beef) sector” that ex Domestic Trade Secretary Guillermo Moreno had, widely questioned by the opposition and private-sector figures. Moreno was replaced in his post in December last year by Augusto Costa, a close aide of Economy Minister Axel Kicillof.

The CICCRA chairman explained the rise in cattle prices follows a restriction in the supply due to roads’ “bad conditions.”

“This is no way to fix the situation; it is rather the repeat of the policies that led us to lose 10 million of head cattle, to having 135 abattoirs closed and losing 16,000 jobs,” Schiariti said calling for “rationality” as he said “stopping the trade of 6% of what it is produced abroad can have no effect on the remaining 94%.”

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August 29th - National Feeder & Stocker Cattle Summary:
USDA-MO Dept of Ag Market News

RECEIPTS:  Auctions   Direct  Video/Internet  Total
This Week     143,200     32,400        30,500        206,100 
Last Week     138,400     70,100       146,200        354,700 
Last Year      165,200      31,800       203,800       400,800

Compared to last week, feeder cattle and calves again this week traded unevenly steady.  A number of auctions from the Northern Plains through the Mid-West had yearlings and calves steady to 5.00 higher, while just as many steady to 5.00 lower.  In the Southeastern markets calves traded mostly steady to 5.00 lower.  Record prices have leveled off the past few weeks but it’s hard to call demand any lighter as cattle buyers remain very active and optimistic for all classes of feeders.  At the Huss Platte Valley Auction in Kearney, NE sold 286 head of 900-925 lb steers with a weighted average price of 216.75 and at the Hub City Livestock auction in South Dakota sold a pot load of value added (drug free) yearling steers weighing 815 lbs at 229.50.  In Mitchell, S.D. on Thursday at the Mitchell Livestock Auction sold two pot loads of all-natural steers averaging 952 lbs tipping the scales at 216.00. 

Last week’s Cattle on Feed report wasn’t quite as bullish as expected, but we still have less cattle than a year ago and it’s worth mentioning that we will still have a tight feeder cattle supply as expectations are that supplies will continue to be tight through the end of the year and into 2015.  Going on the last three weeks we have seen a very volatile Live and Feeder Cattle futures trading, only to see good gains run out of steam the next day with triple-digit losses.  The futures markets can be very emotionally charged and extremely volatile and take no prisoners.  Slaughter cattle weights are on the rise and will likely continue to remain at record levels.  Often we lose sight of the fact that even though we have a tight supply of feeders we have the genetics and the efficiency to put on a lot more pounds of beef on the animal than ever before getting us to record weights.  Low corn prices will only add to the cause with a record corn crop right around the corner should keep the pressure on corn prices. 

This week’s corn crop report showed 73 percent rated good to excellent which is up 1 percent from last week, compared to a year ago the corn crop was rated at 59 percent good to excellent.  Looking at some Regional weighted averages in North Central Regions 600-700 lb steers 1.50 higher at 244.95, 700-800 lb steers mostly steady and 800-900 lb steers mostly 5.00 lower.  In the South Central Regions 500-600 lb steers near 3.00 higher with 700-900 lb steers selling 2.00-3.00 higher.  Wish everyone a happy and safe Labor Day Weekend with good grilling weather in store for everyone.  This week’s reported auction volume included 51 percent over 600 lbs and 38 percent heifers.

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August 22nd - 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 9.8 million head on August 1, 2014. The inventory was 2 percent below August 1, 2013. 
  • Placements in feedlots during July totaled 1.56 million, 7 percent below 2013. Net placements were 1.50 million head. During July, placements of cattle and calves weighing less than 600 pounds were 425,000, 600-699 pounds were 260,000, 700-799 pounds were 355,000, and 800 pounds and greater were 520,000. For the month of July placements are the lowest since the series began in 1996.
  • Marketings of fed cattle during July totaled 1.79 million, 9 percent below 2013. July marketings are the lowest since the series began in 1996.
  • Other disappearance totaled 63,000 during July, 2 percent below 2013.
Analysts regarded the report as slightly negative near-term because July marketings were 1.0% fewer than expected. But placements were positive to the longer-term market. They were 1.7% more than expected but the number of cattle placed 700 lbs and over was down sharply on last year. This meant the August 1 COF total was 0.5% above analysts’ average forecast. The trend of feeding more cattle up north continued. Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and South Dakota each had COF totals above a year ago, as each placed more cattle in July than a year ago.

Texas had the most cattle on feed (2.470M head). Nebraska was second with 2.160M head (up 4%) and Kansas was third with 1.900M head (down 5%). The weight breakdown showed a 3.8% year-on-year increase in cattle under 700 lbs (up 25,000 head) but a 14.6% decline in placements 700 lbs and over (down 149,000 head). Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota marketed more cattle in July than a year earlier.
 

Cattle on Feed Inventory in 1,000+ Capacity Feedlots as of August 1st
Millions of Head
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Number of Cattle Placed on Feed in 1,000+ Capacity Feedlots in July
Millions of Head
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Number of Cattle Marketed from 1,000+ Capacity Feedlots in July
Millions of Head
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Cattle on Feed by State
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August 22nd - Cold Storage Report
  • Total red meat supplies in freezers were up slightly from the previous month but down 10 percent from last year. 
    • Total pounds of beef in freezers were up 2 percent from the previous month but down 21 percent from last year.
    • Frozen pork supplies were down 2 percent from the previous month and down 3 percent from last year. 
    • Stocks of pork bellies were down 23 percent from last month but up 130 percent from last year.
  • Total frozen poultry supplies on July 31, 2014 were up 7 percent from the previous month but down 14 percent from a year ago. 
    • Total stocks of chicken were up 8 percent from the previous month but down 13 percent from last year. 
    • Total pounds of turkey in freezers were up 7 percent from last month but down 16 percent from July 31, 2013.
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August 22nd - Shootin' the Bull Weekly Analysis:
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In my opinion, while there are a multitude of factors at play that have turned the tide of persistent price increases, the one that stands out the most is the recognition of the change in fundamentals and subsequent exit of the entity or entities that provided so much of the buy paper in the rally.  Live cattle futures have lost over 65,000 contracts from the peak of open interest just a few weeks ago.  The feeder cattle lost over 9,000 contracts.  The exiting of these entities has reduced the liquidity of the market and therefore produced less buy paper for what may be the normal amount of selling that transpires on a day in day out basis. 

This brings up the age old question of the roll of the speculator.  Were it not for the speculator, it is perceived that prices may not have been able to achieve the levels they did on the futures markets.  This buying from the speculator allowed producers to lay off price risk during what were perceived as advantageous price levels.  We can now see that without this force of buying, when "normal" selling transpires, prices are forced down more quickly due to the lack of the buying entity. 

So, what changed the bulls minds that a change in trend was about to take place?  In my opinion it is from the recognition that the grocer and restaurant sectors took steps to change the purchasing and eating habits of the consumer.  Grocers reduced portion size and changed packaging to help mitigate the price rise to the consumer.  Restaurants, which beef has thin profit margins to begin with, reduced portion sizes or sided a beef item with another product.  Another form was the advent of the "slider".  Three sliders contain approximately the same amount of beef as a single patty that may be featured as their hamburger.  The increase in bread and condiments helped to offset the price of wholesale beef by producing to the consumer what looked to be more, and charging more, but was simply the same amount of product presented in a different manner. 

Lastly, some restaurants simply raised beef prices and blamed it on the market.  All of the above combined was just enough to take the edge off the supply issues.  It is perceived it was this recognition that caused the bullish entities to use the last two weeks of July to liquidate their positions without disturbing the market.  By the end of the 1st week of August, you could see that the loss in open interest was unfolding.  Long way around the barn I know, but while supply may remain as is for some time, the consumer is well aware of the supply factors and has changed habits to adjust for the higher price.  My recommendation is to recognize the change in fundamentals and adjust your marketing strategies accordingly. 

There is a stair step chart pattern forming on the feeder cattle.  The steps down so far have been fairly even.  This leads me to anticipate a significant step down to move prices away from congestion between the $224.00 and $209.00 area basis the October feeder futures.  The factors above are critical to the feeders as well.  Two factors perceived as hampering feeder prices is the lower fats and the second being that the decline in corn has stopped for the time being.  At the height of the feeder cattle frenzy, analysts were anticipating corn under $3.50 and closer to $3.00 by this time.  This has not materialized and I anticipate that with still a few weeks left before harvest, there could be some rise in corn prices due to short bought purveyor's needing corn now.  It may not be much of a rally, but December futures at $3.90 in the next two weeks would not surprise me. 

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 22nd - United States & Canadian Cattle Inventory Down 3 Percent from 2012

All cattle and calves in the United States and Canada combined totaled 108.3 million head on July 1, 2014, down 3 percent from the 111.3 million on July 1, 2012. All cows and heifers that have calved, at 43.9 million head, were down 2 percent from 2012.

  • All cattle and calves in the United States as of July 1, 2014, totaled 95.0 million head, 3 percent below the 97.8 million on July 1, 2012. All cows and heifers that have calved, at 39.0 million head, were down 2 percent from 2012.
  • All cattle and calves in Canada as of July 1, 2014, totaled 13.3 million head, down 1 percent from the 13.5 million on July 1, 2013. All cows and heifers that have calved, at 4.87 million, were down 1 percent from a year ago
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Submit Comments to Stop EPA’s WOTUS Rule

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corp of Engineers (Corps) have proposed a rule to expand federal authority over non-navigable waters, defining almost all waters, regardless of size or continuity of flow, as “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS).

This proposed rule usurps state authority, infringes up on the property rights of farmers and ranchers and amounts to one of the largest ever land-grabs by the federal government.

"Click Here" to help “Ditch the Rule” by submitting comments to EPA and the Corps opposing the proposal.

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August 21st - Seasonal Drought Outlook

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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%
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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%
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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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