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Market Reports

Read new forecasts and indicators involving beef cattle and feed markets. Find out what factors are affecting prices.

LATEST

meatfreezer_regExports of U.S. beef and pork continued on a record-setting pace in March, with beef posting a 65 percent gain in value versus year-ago levels and pork showing an impressive 40 percent increase, according to statistics compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

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The corn market has been the “poster child” for the sharp increase in agricultural commodity prices that began last summer and extended into the spring of 2011. Higher corn prices were driven by a combination of shortfalls in crop production, including the U.S. corn crop, and strong demand.

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marketcattle_regThe spring feeder cattle marketing season in the Northern Plains is wrapping up, as most backgrounded cattle reached market weights and have been sold to feedlot buyers. Many auction markets are reporting sales volumes at 20 to 30 percent of peak runs in February. And the percentage of heifers selling is outnumbering steers as the heavier weight steers were sold earlier.

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0611pc_marketreport_1Cattle prices peaked-out at the end of the first quarter with all classes posting impressive new all-time highs that far surpassed previous records. However, April saw market levels begin to retreat with pressure looming from higher inputs (grains and fuel) and the tapering-off of demand for stocker cattle and calves. The first week of April marked the first time since the winter storms cleared-up that the demand for feeder cattle actually outweighed that for stockers. Feedlot replacement cattle sold $1 to $4 lower for the month, while lighter-weights lost $3 to $8 of value. Fed cattle ended April $8 off their late-March highs, but feedlots were mostly able to keep cash sales at a premium to the Board.

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“It’s too soon to tell,” say various experts who have started to weigh in on the potential impact of Japan’s tragic earthquake and resulting tsunami on beef imports by the island nation.

Japan is the largest customer for U.S. beef and pork exports in terms of dollar value. Japan accounted for 30 percent of U.S. pork exports and 15 percent of U.S. beef exports last year, according to Meat Trade News Daily.

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feeders_regCattle prices have had a remarkable run to the upside, with finished steers reaching the low $120s per hundredweight in early April. Now there are signs that those lofty prices will not be maintained into the spring and summer.

It is the strength of demand that has been the driver of higher cattle prices, not supply.

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