Ron Plain and Scott Brown
Ag Economics, MU
May 13, 2016
USDA's May WASDE is predicting 4.7% more beef this year than last and 4.0% more beef in 2017 than this year. Total red meat and poultry production is expected to be up 3.1% this year and up 2.9% next. That is faster than population growth or expected export growth, so U.S. per capita meat consumption is expected to increase 3.8 pounds this year and 2.8 pounds next year.
More meat means lower prices. Slaughter steer prices are forecast to be roughly $22/cwt lower this year than in 2015 and another $3/cwt lower in 2017. USDA is predicting a record corn harvest this fall with the marketing year average price for corn between $3.05 and $3.65 per bushel.
USDA's weekly Crop Progress report says 9% of U.S. pastures were in poor or very poor condition on May 8. That compares 10% the week before and 12% poor or very poor a year earlier.
Both boxed beef values and fed cattle prices are higher this week. This morning the choice boxed beef cutout value was $217.94/cwt, up $14.28 from the previous Friday, but down $44.75 from a year ago. The select carcass cutout this morning was $205.82/cwt, up $10.91 from last week, but down $44.70 from a year ago. The choice-select spread is quite large at $12.12/cwt.
Fed cattle prices were strongly higher this week in light volume. Through Thursday, the 5-area average price for slaughter steers sold on a live weight basis was $128.00/cwt, up $9.97 from last week's average, but down $31.44 from a year ago. The 5-area dressed steer price averaged $202.86/cwt, up $12.88 from the week before.
This week's cattle slaughter totaled 601,000 head, up 2.4% from last week and up 5.8% from a year ago. Year-to-date steer slaughter is up 6.8%. It looks like the upturn in the calf crop occurred earlier than USDA's cattle inventory survey indicated.
The average steer dressed weight for the week ending on April 30 was 868 pounds, down 2 pounds from the week before, but up 3 pounds from a year ago. This was the 98th consecutive week with steer weights above the year-ago level.
Prices for feeder and stocker cattle this week at the Oklahoma City Stockyards were $4 to $10 higher in good volume compared to last week. Prices for medium and large frame #1 steers by weight group were: 400-450# $188-$199, 450-500# $163-$199, 500-550# $165.50-$188.50, 550-600# $171-$181.50, 600-650# $150-$175, 650-700# $149-$166.75, 700-750# $140-$158.50, 750-800# $135-$156.50, 800-900# $138-$149.50 and 900-1000# $129-$140.50/cwt.
Today, the June live cattle futures contract settled at $123.42/cwt, up $2.695 for the week. August fed cattle settled at $118.72/cwt, up 82 cents from the previous Friday. The October contract ended the week at $117.97/cwt. May feeder cattle futures ended the week at $147.05/cwt, down 32 cents from a week earlier. August futures lost 92 cents this week to close at $146.25/cwt. September settled at $144.22/cwt.