Cuba has about 11.3 million people, which ranks it slightly below the population of Ohio. Trade with the country has revolved mainly around agriculture and medical supplies. Sales have been up and down over the past decade because restrictions would be lifted then reinstated and then lifted again.
Because of the broad USDA definition of a farm (which includes places with the potential for as little as $1,000 in annual sales), more than half of farm operator households consistently incur a net loss from farming activities in any given year, and far more do not earn the equivalent of a market wage for their on-farm labor.
The Canadian and Mexican cow and heifer situation has implications for herd size and cattle production on the North American continent in coming years and more immediately on current feeder supplies. Record U.S. cattle prices provide a tremendous pull for cattle of all types and from all possible sources.
The cash fed trade was a surprise, in that it dribbled in throughout the week starting as early as Monday. Monday saw $259-260 dressed and $164 live in Nebraska, $164 live on Tuesday in Kansas, and then down to $255-256 dressed for some heavy cattle in the Cornbelt Wednesday.
All was quiet on the agricultural supply front last week. The most recent World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report showed very little movement in grains, and minimal activity in meats relative to past reports, though beef led the total meat production estimates downward while pork led the meat import numbers upward.
October beef exports were up 2 percent from a year ago to 109,858 metric tons (mt), while export value was a record-high $687.1 million— up 22 percent from a year ago. Muscle cut volume was down 2 percent to 76,472 mt, but still increased 19 percent in value to $596.
By close of trade on Thursday, over 17,500 head had been confirmed sold for the week. Though light, the trade was very trend-setting for the week and confirmed analysts’ earlier worries. Live prices ranged from $163-166—well below the prior week’s $170-173—and dressed prices were $263-265, down from $264-268.
At its 166th conference, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) decided to maintain its production level of 30 million barrels of oil a day. The announcement sent the already declining crude oil prices into a momentary tailspin. Cattle producers and beef consumers may benefit, however.
Many years of cattle herd liquidation, due to drought and other factors, have left the beef industry with such low cattle inventories that severe reductions in beef production are inevitable. Beef production in 2014 is projected to total roughly 24.4 billion pounds, down 5.
Packers’ strategies paid off a little last week as the futures markets plummeted in time for an early-week buy ahead of the Thanksgiving-shortened trade week for lower money. By Wednesday afternoon, over 14,000 head had been confirmed sold at $168-173 (average $171.
One of the bi-products of the industry’s ongoing argument over Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) is added scrutiny of the U.S.’ beef imports. The lines are fairly clearly drawn in the pro and con camps, but as it has been said, “the truth is rarely pure and never simple.
Across all warehouses as of Oct. 31, beef in cold storage amounted to 374.87 million pounds (mp), down 15 percent from the same time last year. Beef additionally represented less of red meat and total meat in cold storage at 39.8 percent and 18.8 percent respectively, down from 42.
The state of the beef supply chain took a bearish turn recently as higher-than-expected placements combined with continued lower-than expected marketings. But there is speculation that the trend of depressed marketings—and thereby feedlot backlogs—won’t continue too much longer.
Last week the cattle and beef markets were holding their breaths before the Thanksgiving week. Cash cattle trade didn’t relevantly develop until Friday and futures were sideways. But prices for feeder cattle keep going up and the cutout continues its slow march upwards.
Last Monday, the November World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report was released. Most noteworthy was the one-month reversal of corn yield rates, even as analysts still call for higher yield estimates.
The cash trade was slow to develop last week as packers were stretching what they had in committed cattle to cover reduced production needs. Increases in the futures also had them holding off buying in hopes of a downturn as cattle feeders were asking for higher money.
Activity in the cattle and beef markets was slow last week as the nation turned its attention to the elections and the strength in the outside markets. Live and feeder cattle futures were quietly mixed as more attention-grabbing markets—the Dow and the S&P 500— set record highs.
For many producers, this may be a question of expanding the cow herd. In addition to potential herd expansion, producers should consider whether current market values should prompt management changes as well. Consider this question, for example: What is the optimal level of death loss for cows or calves?.