With virtually every segment of the cattle market at all-time high price levels, it’s only natural to start looking for what can go wrong. After all, this is agriculture and ranchers are a lot more comfortable with bad news than good news.
We’re pretty darned good at dealing with adversity, but a little uncomfortable with prosperity. Admittedly, record prices don’t equate to profitability, as we have record high production costs as well.
Certainly, there is a point where consumers will say “no more” from a retail-price standpoint. And, while many are construing the latest corn stocks number (which was unchanged) as a positive sign, the world is a very uncertain place – just saying the words “Middle East” raises all kinds of uncertainty.
Of course, there are outside forces that could make things even better as well. China could open up and become a major importer of our product; and debates over ethanol could forge a coalition of consumers, environmentalists and political ideologies to put an end to the ethanol subsidy. Those aren’t likely to happen anytime soon, but if they did every rancher in the country would be driving new trucks and contemplating sending their kids to Harvard.
Back to reality, however, barring some major outside force, conditions are aligned for some great times.