The winter storm that hit much of the northern U.S. this week was truly impressive in that it seems to have virtually impacted the entire country in some respect.

I was expecting the attendance at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association convention to be down greatly as a result of the weather. I’m sure the weather that closed roads and snarled air traffic forced people to stay home, but you wouldn’t know it by the sea of cowboy hats in the meetings at the Denver Convention Center.

Record prices and unprecedented challenges seem to have trumped blizzards and storm conditions. It speaks to the political environment we are operating in; that most people felt the political storms we face are much more likely to have a bigger impact on their operations’ future.

At the CattleFax Outlook session in Denver this morning, economists reported:

  • Record-high prices are forecasted for all classes of cattle in 2011 with continued increases expected in 2012.
  • Fed-cattle values are expected to average near $103/cwt. in 2011 with higher prices again in 2012.
  • Feeder-cattle values are projected to average near $118/cwt. and calf values are likely to average near $138/cwt.
  • Cull-cow values will experience another increase, averaging near $65/cwt.
Current prices and fundamentals have every cattleman feeling a little better about life in general, but there seems to be a general recognition that the length of this rally could be greatly affected by outside forces. Perhaps it’s because we’re in unchartered waters for price levels, but when people start talking about cow-calf producers making $300/cow for an extended period of time, that can make the average cattlemen just a little nervous.
-- Troy Marshall