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Market Reports

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

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The Jan. 1, 2019, inventory of all cattle and calves in the U.S. grew to 94.76 million, head, up 0.5 percent from one year ago. This puts the number of cattle in the country just slightly higher than 2009 levels after dropping to a low of 88.53 million head in 2014, with an increase of 6.23 million head in the last five years.

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The USDA continues to catch up on reports stalled by the shutdown and, as part of catching up, released the January Cattle on Feed report on Friday, Feb. 22. The report has lost a little bit of its normal timeliness, but still contains a few interesting nuggets.

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The latest USDA Cattle on Feed report issued on Feb. 22 was delayed a month because of the federal government shutdown. The report showed December placements at 98 percent of one year earlier and marketings at 99 percent of last year, leading to a Jan. 1 on-feed total of 11.69 million head, 101.8 percent of the prior year.

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With USDA data flowing again, the final numbers for 2018 will begin to emerge soon as well as current numbers for 2019. The annual Cattle report will be released after a one-month delay in late February.

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The forecast for 2018 beef production is increased by 25 million pounds to 26.9 billion pounds. This minor adjustment is based on greater expected steer and heifer slaughter, which is partially offset by anticipated lighter steer and heifer carcass weights and lower expected cow slaughter in the fourth quarter.

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While the partial government shutdown remains in force, market reports are no longer happening, but some market experts are able to give some insight as to what 2019 might have in store for the U.S. cattle market.

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