• The amount of beef produced by the U.S. dropped in 2015, but the U.S. share of world beef production went up half a percentage point to 19.2 percent.

    Yet the U.S. slaughtered fewer cattle – 30.4 million head – than China, Brazil and India, three of its closest competitors in beef production. That’s a clear indication of how much more value the U.S. gets out of each head of cattle it produces.

  • The number of feedyards in the U.S. has rapidly declined, faster than what we thought. USDA Survey data caught up with data reflected in the last USDA Census data of 2012.

    Those reports showed the number of feedlots with inventory dropped from 80,743 in 2002 to 26,896 in 2012. That’s a staggering number when you look at them once again.

  • The drought of 2011-2012 took a huge bite from the Southwest cow herds of Texas and Oklahoma, which are the two largest states for beef cows. Based on five-year beef cow herd expansion changes, Texas is down 635,000 head from where it was Jan. 1, 2011, while Oklahoma is down 73,000 head.

  • U.S. exports to its trading partners took a step back in 2015, around 11 percent less to $6.3 billion in total value. And yet that amount still rates as the second-highest value year ever in U.S. beef trade – and six times more than the value we dropped to after BSE in 2003.

  • Among those trading partners, Mexico, Japan, Korea and Canada remain the strongest buyers of U.S. beef. Those four countries accounted for 681,416 metric tons of beef and variety meat – 63 percent of our total export volume.

    Also worth noting: Of the 11 nations joining the U.S. in the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement, eight of them are on the list of top 20 countries importing U.S. beef.

  • Much has been said and made of last year’s rapid downturn in cattle markets during the third and fourth quarter.

    Now with the data and hard numbers in front of you, you can see the decline from September to December went as follows: Chicago Mercantile Exchange feeder cattle index dropped 21.8, the 5-area weekly weighted average select steer price dropped 16.5 percent, the choice cutout dropped 17.5 percent, and the fed cattle price dropped 16.6 percent.

  • Just for some perspective, if you’re concerned about that rapid decline, remember this. The $78.2 billion in cattle receipts collected by the U.S. in 2015 was the second-highest total recorded by the USDA while still a small drop from the $81.4 billion mark established in 2014. The 2015 total is still more than twice the $38 billion mark set in 2002.  end mark
David Cooper