USDA has heightened concerns over the impact of dryness on cattle markets, blaming renewed fears for pasture conditions for "causing consternation" among ranchers and eroding prices.

Cattle prices, which "came under a great deal of selling pressure last week" in both cash and futures markets, "may have reached a temporary peak,” USDA says.

The caution reflected the effect on the spread of undue dryness which - besides sending corn prices soaring on Monday - has curtailed, and even reversed, a trend of herd rebuilding which had offered support to prices.

A lack of moisture left 60% of the Midwest, 73% of the High Plains, and 74% of the U.S. South suffering abnormally dry or drought conditions as of last Tuesday, according to official data.

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