Weekly slaughter totals continue to run smaller than last year, while the Choice cutout and cash cattle prices continue to push toward record highs.
The livestock markets are back in business now that USDA’s market reporting apparatus is fully operational. The two-week federal government funding lapse had kept the markets essentially flying blind, absent important daily livestock reports from the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), as well as other crop and feed reports from the National Agricultural Statistics Service and World Agricultural Outlook Board.
What do we know at this point? Basically, that we’re right where we thought we were: with tight cattle supplies and adequate demand keeping prices on a fairly bullish trajectory.
With limited supplies of cattle and consumers willing to pay near-record retail prices for beef, the choice cutout has remained resilient over the past month, and the cash cattle market continues to improve. Prices, in fact, are now flirting with record high prices set earlier this year as the lingering effects of the multi-year drought are now coupled with the big questions raised by this month’s freak blizzard in South Dakota and the surrounding states.
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