- The CME price for feeder calves is nowhere near the records seen back in 2015, but the rebound seen in late 2016 was a promising turn for the markets. We’ve seen the 5-area weekly weighted average select steer price make some healthy return to the five-year averages, giving 2017 a good start when compared to the start of 2016.
- A look at the U.S. map and the inventory of the 50 states shows significant growth in the beef cow herd, with the national herd numbers going up 3.5 percent on Jan. 1. Of the top 10 beef cow states, all but one saw beef cow growth – significant growth in fact. Oklahoma’s herd went up 8.9 percent, with Missouri making 7.9 percent growth. Rain and grass have been healthy, and the national herd is back to levels seen before the historic 2011-2012 drought.
- The push happening now to bring U.S. beef into China is happening just as the entire market in East Asia is sustaining major growth. Japan is taking more volume of U.S. beef than at any time in the past 17 years – or since the BSE crisis. The same is happening in Korea, and Hong Kong and Taiwan continue to be significant destinations for the growth of U.S. beef sales.
- On the other side of the coin, trade experts may be worried over Canada. For a fifth straight year, beef exports have taken a dip with our northern neighbor. This year’s drop went down 7 percent in volume and 16 percent in value. A more frightening number is that, since 2011, export volumes to Canada have dropped 39 percent, and the value of exports declined 36 percent since 2012.
While there is a significant segment wanting to redraw our North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico, it’s worth remembering that during the most difficult years of the BSE crisis, those countries were huge buyers of U.S. beef.
- As far as beef production is concerned, no country has yet come close to matching the volume and the quality of beef produced from the U.S. Our nation’s ranchers accounted for 19.6 percent of the total beef produced in the globe, up from 19.2 percent a year ago. And the U.S. still only has the fourth-highest total inventory, behind India, Brazil and China.
- Managing Editor
- Progressive Cattleman
- Email David Cooper