Over the last two decades the spreads between calves, feeder cattle and fed cattle have held enormous cushion compared to previous decades.

The chart above provides the annual price history of steers in the Southern Plains.

Annual fed cattle were above feeder and/or calf prices once in the mid-1990s, and were solidly there for years in the 1980s and 1970s.

What was happening in those time-frames? We have already drawn a few similarities regarding inflation and the 1980s, it was also the height of the farm crisis. In 1996 calf and feeder prices dipped for one year below fed prices. It was the height of that cattle cycle and the calf crops in 1994 and 1995 were the largest seen in more than 6 years.

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