Except for a historically high level of cattle carryover in early 1998, all beef segments are either in or on the verge of good economic times, Cattle-Fax analysts reported in their annual market outlook.

Beef production is expected to decline by 3% in 1998, but pork and poultry will increase production by 6% over 1997, analysts predict. That all adds up to a record meat and poultry supply for 1998.

Increases in competing meats, a reduction in Asian purchasing power due to financial market woes and volatile grain markets temper somewhat the optimistic picture. But, U.S. beef exports should pick up, particularly to Mexico. And, U.S. cattle numbers will trend lower into the year 2000.

Cattle feeder strategies for 1998-2000 include:

* Stay current on marketing.

* Own lightweight cattle and grow to feeders.

* Plan ahead for tighter feeder supplies and wider feeder-to-fed premiums.

* Increase focus on feed grain price management

* Evaluate risk management approach.

* Plan ahead for excess feeding capacity.

Stocker/backgrounder strategies for 1998-2000 include:

* Maintain inventory.

* Plan for escalating price premiums on replacement cattle.

* Evaluate retained ownership opportunities.

* Manage feed grain prices.

* Evaluate risk management approach.

Cow-calf producer strategies for 1998-2000 include:

* Maximize production and numbers.

* Top genetics will be in demand as expansion unfolds.

* Evaluate retained ownership options. More value-based marketing is expected.

* Focus on improving efficiencies.

* Plan ahead for cyclical high calf prices by the early 2000s.