As the year-end holiday season continues, the markets are calm. The most recent Cattle on Feed report showed a continuation of the ongoing build-up of cattle in feedlots. Cattle on feed numbers were up, placements were down slightly, and marketings were down considerably again.
Due to the holiday-shortened week last week and the subsequent lack of activity in the markets, there is not as much to report this week. But, in keeping with the theme of looking back on the year that’s about to fade into history, there were some distinct highlights in this year’s market that deserve reflection.
The most recent Cold Storage report came out last week showing red meat supplies in all freezers down fairly significantly year-over-year. Red meat in cold storage as of Nov. 30 stood at 919.08 million pounds, down 10 percent from the same time last year.
One of the biggest elements of market news last week was the unprecedented freefall seen in the feeder futures markets. For five solid days—from Dec. 12 through Dec. 17—every contract on the feeder board was limit down—a drop of $15 in all feeder contracts in less than a week!.
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.