The National Ag Statistics Service (NASS) most recent numbers offer detail on why cow slaughter is up. Compared to last year, 14% less pasture is rated Good or Excellent, and 14% more is rated as Poor or worse.

More specifically, for the week ending July 2, NASS reported:
States with the worst pasture conditions -- at least 30% of the acreage rated poor or worse -- include: Alabama (66%); Arizona (78%); Colorado (65%); Georgia (43%); Kansas (33%); Louisiana (50%); Mississippi (40%); Missouri (41%); Nebraska (50%); New Mexico (74%); North Dakota (31%); Oklahoma (58%); South Dakota (46%); Texas (71%); and Wyoming (53%).

On the wet side of the fence, states with the most lush pasture conditions -- at least 40% rated good or better -- include: Arkansas (41%); Idaho (89%); Illinois (62%); Indiana (79%); Iowa (49%); Kentucky (60%); Maine (75%); Maryland (53%); Michigan (55%); Minnesota (57%); Montana (44%); Nevada (61%); New York (69%); North Carolina (52%); Ohio (69%); Oregon (61%); Pennsylvania (65%); South Carolina (53%); Tennessee (52%); Utah (57%); Virginia (46%); Washington (71%); West Virginia (51%); Wisconsin (59%).

Pasture -- 29% is rated Good and 5% is rated Excellent, compared to 40% and 8%, respectively last year. 20% is rated Poor and 15% is ranked Very Poor, compared to 15% and 6% respectively at the same time last year.

Corn -- 10% is at or beyond the silking stage, which is on par with last year and with the five-year average. 68% is rated Good or better, compared to 62% last year.

Soybeans -- Blooming has begun on 18% of the acreage, 1% behind last year, but 5% ahead of normal. 64% is rated Good or better; 58% was at the same time last year.

Winter wheat -- 65% of the acreage has been harvested. That's 9% ahead of last year and 10% ahead of the normal pace.

Spring wheat -- 72% of the crop is at or beyond the heading stage, which is 19% ahead of last year and 26% ahead of the five-year average. 52% is rated Good or better, compared to 81% last year.

Barley -- Heading advanced to 58%, compared to 44% at this time last year and 43% for normal. 67% is rated Good or better, compared to 81% last year.

Sorghum -- 22% of the acreage is in the heading stage, which is 6% ahead of last year and 4% ahead of average. 50% is ranked Good or better, compared to 64% last year.

Oats -- Heading advanced to 89% of the acreage, which is 7% ahead of last year and 13% ahead of average. 42% is rated Good or better, compared to 66% last year.
-- Wes Ishmael, BEEF Stocker Trends newsletter