Daily Market Highlights

Cattle Current Daily—June 22, 2021

Negotiated cash fed cattle trade was mostly inactive on very light demand in the western Corn Belt through Monday afternoon, according to the Agricultural Marketing Service. Elsewhere, it was at a standstill.

Last week, live prices were at $122/cwt. in the Southern Plains and $124 in the North. Dressed prices were at $195.

Cattle futures closed narrowly mixed Monday, supported by improving fundamentals but balanced by declining wholesale beef values and weaker Lean Hog futures.

Live Cattle futures closed an average of 23¢ lower.

Feeder Cattle futures closed an average of 47¢ higher, from 7¢ higher at the front to $1.12 higher toward the back.

So far this morning, both are higher.

Choice boxed beef cutout value was $2.08 lower Monday afternoon at $321.20/cwt. Select was $2.15 lower at $281.46.

Although new-Crop Corn futures eased Monday, overall Corn and Soybean futures were supported by weaker crop conditions (Good and Excellent) week over week and year over year.

Corn futures closed mostly 6¢ to 9¢ lower through new-crop contracts, and generally 3¢ to 5¢ higher in other contracts.

Soybean futures closed mostly 6¢ to 9¢ higher in new-crop contracts and mostly 13¢ to 22¢ higher in the others.

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Major U.S. financial indices rallied back Monday, supported by higher crude oil prices. CME WTI Crude Oil futures closed $1.21 to $2.02 higher through the front six contracts.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 586 points higher. The S&P 500 closed 58 points higher. The NASDAQ was up 111 points.

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USDA and lawmakers continue to focus more money and proposed legislation on addressing the nation’s meat packing industry.

USDA announced Monday $55.2 million in competitive grant funding available through the new Meat and Poultry Inspection Readiness Grant (MPIRG) program.

“We are building capacity and increasing economic opportunity for small and midsized meat and poultry processors and producers across the country,” said Agriculture Secretary, Tom Vilsack. “Through MPIRG, meat and poultry slaughter and processing facilities can cover the costs for necessary improvements to achieve a Federal Grant of Inspection under the Federal Meat Inspection Act or the Poultry Products Inspection Act, or to operate under a state’s Cooperative Interstate Shipment program.”

MPIRG’s Planning for a Federal Grant of Inspection (PFGI) project is for processing facilities currently in operation and are working toward Federal inspection.

Earlier this month (June 11), as mentioned in Cattle Current, USDA announced it was beginning work on three proposed rules to support enforcement of the Packers and Stockyards (P&S) Act.

First, USDA intends to propose a new rule that will provide greater clarity to strengthen enforcement of unfair and deceptive practices, undue preferences, and unjust prejudices. Second, USDA will propose a new poultry grower tournament system rule, with the current inactive proposal to be withdrawn. Third, USDA will re-propose a rule to clarify that parties do not need to demonstrate harm to competition in order to bring an action under section 202 (a) and 202 (b) of the P&S Act.

Earlier that week, USDA announced $4 billion in assistance as part of the Build Back Better initiative, an effort designed to strengthen and transform critical parts of the U.S. food system. Investments made through Build Back Better will include a mix of grants, loans and innovative financing to address the shortage of small meat processing facilities across the country as well as the necessary local and regional food system infrastructure needed to support them.

Also on June 11, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), along with Senators Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) announced new bipartisan legislation they said was meant to address anticompetitive practices in the meat and poultry industries.

“Increased consolidation is driving concerns about competitive market access for Iowa livestock producers,” Grassley said. “The recent cyberattack (JBS) added to existing vulnerabilities in our food supply chain, underscoring the importance of protecting the livelihoods of our family farmers. Food security is national security. This bill provides USDA with the necessary tools to beef up enforcement of the Packers and Stockyards Act, increase coordination with DOJ, FTC, and DHS and to foster a fair and functional marketplace for farmers and consumers alike.”

The Senators’ bill, the Meat Packing Special Investigator Act, would create the “Office of the Special Investigator for Competition Matters” within the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Packers and Stockyards Division.

Cattle Current Daily—June 22, 2021 2021-06-22T09:37:41-05:00

Cattle Current Daily—June 21, 2021

Negotiated cash fed cattle trade was limited on light demand in all major cattle feeding regions through Friday afternoon, according to the Agricultural Marketing Service.

Live prices last week were $2-$3 higher in the Southern Plains at $122/cwt. and $3-$4 higher in the North at $124. Dressed prices were $4-$5 higher at $195.

Live Cattle futures closed higher Friday, regaining some of what was lost in the previous session, supported by higher cash prices and improving fundamentals.

Live Cattle futures closed an average of $1.00 higher (37¢ to $1.92 higher).

Resurgent grain futures prices pressured Feeder Cattle futures.

Feeder Cattle futures closed an average of $1.41 lower, from an average of (85¢ lower at the back to $2.37 lower at the front.

Choice boxed beef cutout value was $2.97 lower at $323.28/cwt. Select was $3.63 lower at $283.61.

Estimated total cattle slaughter for the week ending June 19 was 663,000 head, which was 2,000 head fewer than the previous week, but 17,000 head more than a year earlier, according to USDA. Year-to-date estimated total cattle slaughter of 15.4 million head is 820,000 more (+5.62%) than the same period last year. Total estimated beef production so far this year is 12.81 billion lbs., which is 772.6 million lbs. more (+6.42%).

Grain futures bounced back Friday from the previous day’s steep selloff, looking for the trading range encompassing the stronger U.S. dollar, weather risk, uncertainty about potential changes to the Renewable Fuel Standard and all of the rest.

Corn futures closed 22¢ to 34¢ higher through Jly ‘22 , and then mostly 14¢ to 17¢ higher.

Soybean futures closed mostly 54¢ to 66¢ higher.

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Major U.S. financial indices sagged lower Friday, beneath the weight of investor worries about the Fed raising interest rates sooner than 2023.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 533 points lower. The S&P 500 closed 55 points lower. The NASDAQ down 130 points.

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“Strong grain prices, the Federal Reserve’s record-low interest rates, and growing exports have underpinned the Rural Mainstreet Economy. Even so, current rural economic activity remains below pre-pandemic levels,” says Ernie Goss, PhD, Jack A. MacAllister Chair in Regional Economics at Creighton University’s Heider College of Business.

Goss and Bill McQuillan, former chairman of the Independent Community Banks of America, created the monthly economic survey, which underpins the Creighton University Rural Mainstreet Index (RMI), covering 10 regional states, focusing on approximately 200 rural communities with an average population of 1,300. It gives the most current real-time analysis of the rural economy. 

The June RMI remained above growth neutral for the seventh consecutive month at 70.0. The RMI was record high a month earlier at 78.8. The index ranges between 0 and 100 with a reading of 50.0 representing growth neutral.

The farmland price index was significantly above growth neutral for the ninth consecutive month; the first time since 2013. The June reading slipped to 75.9 from May’s 78.1.

The June farm equipment-sales index rose to 71.6 from 67.9, its highest level since 2012 and the seventh consecutive month of a reading above growth neutral.

Approximately, 46.7% of bank CEOs reported their local economy expanded between May and June, but several bankers raised future concerns.

For instance, according to Steve Simon, CEO of South Story Bank and Trust in Huxley, Iowa, “Continued dry conditions will start to have an effect on markets and crops soon.”

Longer term, Larry Winum, CEO of Glenwood State Bank in Glenwood, Iowa, says, “In my view, $29 trillion in total debt with no real plan to reduce that debt, or balance the annual budget is the biggest threat to our economy’s success.” He argues that neither political party, nor the Federal Reserve, has engaged in a serious discussion to solve the problem.

When asked to name the greatest threat to 2021-22 bank operations, approximately 25% cited a downturn in farm income. Another 25%  pointed to rising government regulation.

Cattle Current Daily—June 21, 2021 2021-06-20T17:22:45-05:00

Cattle Current Daily—June 18, 2021

Negotiated cash fed cattle trade was at a standstill in the Texas Panhandle through Thursday afternoon, according to the Agricultural Marketing Service. Elsewhere, it was limited on light demand with too few transactions to trend. So far this week, live prices are $2-$3 higher in the Southern Plains at $122/cwt., $4 higher in Nebraska at $124 and $3-$4 higher in the western Corn Belt at $124. Dressed prices are $4-$5 higher at $195.

Live Cattle futures closed sharply lower Thursday with apparent profit taking, limit-down moves in Lean Hog futures and spillover pressures from widespread commodity selling (see below).

Live Cattle futures closed an average of $2.85 lower. 

Despite the pressure, sharply lower grain futures supported Feeder Cattle futures.

Feeder Cattle futures closed mixed, from an average of 49¢ lower to an average of 55¢ higher.

Choice boxed beef cutout value was $2.92 lower Thursday afternoon at $326.25/cwt. Select was $2.72 lower at $287.24.

The average dressed steer weight the week ending June 5 was 891 lbs., according to USDA’s Actual Slaughter Under Federal Inspection report. That was 1 lb. less than the previous year. The average dressed heifer weight of 812 lbs. was 12 lbs. lighter.

Grain futures tanked Thursday with promising weather in the Corn Belt. Growing uncertainty about whether President Biden will bolster or relax the current Renewable Fuel Standard added pressure, as did the sharply higher U.S. Dollar.

Moreover, there was broad-based commodity selling, tied to reports of China directing state-owned firms to reduce exposure to foreign commodity markets, in an effort to curb inflation.

Corn futures closed limit down 40¢ through the front six contracts, and then mostly 26¢ to 30¢ lower.

Soybean futures closed 82¢ to $1.18 lower through Jly ‘22. And then mostly 55¢ to 69¢ lower.

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Major U.S. financial indices closed mixed Thursday. Along with continued pressure from the Fed’s expectation of raising interest rates a year earlier than previously intended, initial weekly unemployment insurance claims were more than expected. Those claims tallied 412,000 for the week ending June 12, up 37,000 from the previous week.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 210 points lower. The S&P 500 closed 1 point lower. The NASDAQ was down 121 points.

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Delays and congestion at U.S. ports continue to hamstring U.S. agriculture exports, including meat and poultry products.

“Perhaps the most egregious action perpetrated by ocean carriers is their growing proclivity to decline to carry U.S. agricultural commodity exports, including meat and poultry exports, instead choosing to hasten empty containers to Asian markets to fill them with more lucrative consumer goods to export to the U.S.,” explained Julie Anna Potts, Meat Institute president and CEO. “In some instances, common carriers are collecting freight rates as high as $12,000 per container to carry cargo from Asia to the U.S., while containers carrying U.S. agriculture exports earn only $1,800.” That was part of the testimony she delivered earlier this week to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee On Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation.

Further, Potts explained ocean carriers and marine terminal operators are charging excessive and unreasonable detention and demurrage fees.

“Failure to hold these carriers accountable could have long-lasting, detrimental effects for the trade-dependent U.S. meat and poultry industry and agriculture sector which has caused $1.5 billion in lost revenue,” said Potts. “If current ocean carrier practices persist, and are not subject to oversight, then the U.S. meat and poultry industry, its workers and the communities it supports will struggle to access these vital markets that have been cultivated over decades.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that the $141.6 billion in U.S. agricultural export value in 2019 generated an additional $160 billion in economic activity for a total of $301.6 billion in economic output.

The Meat Institute is urging U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and the Congress to confront the crisis as part of efforts to improve and strengthen the food supply chain.

Cattle Current Daily—June 18, 2021 2021-06-17T19:40:21-05:00

Cattle Current Daily—June 17, 2021

Negotiated cash fed cattle prices continued higher in Kansas and Nebraska on slow trade and light demand through Wednesday afternoon, according to the Agricultural Marketing Service. So far this week, live prices are $2-$3 higher in the Southern Plains at $122/cwt. and $4 higher in Nebraska at $124. Dressed prices in Nebraska are $4-$5 higher at $195.

Last week, prices in the western Corn Belt were $120-$121 on a live basis and $190-$191 in the beef.

Cattle feeders offered 6,049 head in Central Stockyards’ weekly Fed Cattle Exchange auction. Of those, 1,006 sold — all from the Southern Plains and all on a live weight basis. Steers brought a weighted average price of $121.65/cwt. and heifers brought an average of $121.22.

Cattle futures mostly gained again Wednesday, supported by the recent break in grain futures, as well as higher cash prices. That came in the face of limit-down moves in front-month Lean Hog futures.

Feeder Cattle futures closed an average of 87¢ higher (17¢ to $2.30 higher), except for an average of 25¢ lower in the back two contracts.

Live Cattle futures closed an average of 72¢ higher (12¢ to $1.35 higher). 

Choice boxed beef cutout value was $5.26 lower Wednesday afternoon at $329.17/cwt. Select was $8.32 lower at $289.96. The Choice/Select spread was $39.21/cwt.

Positive weather kept pressure on Corn futures Wednesday.

Corn futures closed 1¢ to 7¢ lower, except for 5¢ higher in spot Jly.

Soybean futures closed mostly 18¢ to 30¢ lower.

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Major U.S. financial indices closed lower Wednesday, pressured by information from the Federal Reserve, indicating inflation was running higher than previously expected and interest rates may increase sooner than expected. In this case, sooner means 2023 versus 2024.

In the meantime, according to the FOMC statement, the committee expects to maintain its current accommodative monetary policy until inflation averages 2% over time and longer‑term inflation expectations remain “well anchored” at 2%.

In prepared remarks, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said, “Inflation has increased notably in recent months. The 12-month change in Personal Consumption Expenditure (PCE) prices was 3.6% in April and will likely remain elevated in coming months before moderating.” The committee increased PCE expectations for this year by 1% from its previous estimate to 3.4%. 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 265 points lower. The S&P 500 closed 22 points lower. The NASDAQ was down 33 points.

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Although total cattle slaughter in May was more than last year’s pandemic-ravaged pace, it was 1% less than in 2019, according to USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS). Cow slaughter, though, was 6% more than last year and 7% more than in 2019.

“While there have been improvements in drought conditions in some regions since last month, pasture and range conditions in areas like the Northwest and North Dakota remain very poor compared to last year,” say ERS analysts, in the latest Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook.

ERS increased expected cow slaughter for the second and third quarters this year, but analysts say projected total cattle slaughter remained static based on less fed cattle slaughter in the second quarter, and reduced expectation for fourth-quarter cow slaughter. Expected annual beef production this year is 5 million lbs. more than the previous month at 27.905 billion lbs.

In the monthly World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates, ERS forecast the annual average five-area direct fed steer price at $117/cwt. Average prices are projected at $120 in the second quarter, $115 in the third quarter and $120 in the fourth quarter. Next year’s forecast annual average price is $121.50.

ERS projects the annual average feeder steer price (basis Oklahoma City) this year at $139.33/cwt. Average prices are forecast at $139 in the second quarter, $141 in the third quarter and $143 in the fourth quarter. ERS pegs the average annual price for next year at $144.25.

Cattle Current Daily—June 17, 2021 2021-06-16T19:15:54-05:00

Cattle Current Daily—June 16, 2021

Negotiated cash fed cattle trade was limited on light demand in Nebraska and the western Corn Belt through Tuesday afternoon, according to the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS). Although too few to trend, there were a few dressed trades at $195/cwt., compared to $190-$191 last week. Elsewhere, trade ranged from mostly inactive on very light demand to a standstill.

Live prices last week were at mostly $119-$120 in the Southern Plains, $120 in Nebraska and $120-$121 in the western Corn Belt.

The recent decline in Corn futures moderated Tuesday but continued to bolster Cattle futures, which were also supported by the outlook for steady to higher cash prices this week.

Feeder Cattle futures closed an average of $1.34 higher (62¢ to $2.22 higher).

Live Cattle futures closed an average of $1.91 higher through the front four contracts ($1.32 to $1.62 higher) and then an average of 26¢ higher, except for 12¢ lower in the back two contracts.

Choice boxed beef cutout value was $1.04 lower at $334.43/cwt. Select was $5.13 lower at $298.28. At $36.15, the Choice/Select spread was the highest since June 2017, when it peaked at $30.92.

Grain futures continued mainly lower Tuesday with the progress-friendly weather forecast in the Corn Belt.

Corn futures closed mostly 3¢ to 7¢ lower, except for 8¢ higher in spot Jly.

Soybean futures closed mostly 17¢ to 21¢ lower.

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Major U.S. financial indices softened Tuesday, with weaker economic data.

Advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for May 2021 were less than expected at $620.2 billion, a decrease of 1.3% month to month, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The Producer Price Index (PPI) for final demand increased 0.8% in May, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On an unadjusted basis, the final demand index advanced 6.6% for the 12 months ended in May, the largest increase since 12-month data were first calculated in November 2010.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 94 points lower. The S&P 500 closed 8 points lower. The NASDAQ was down 101 points.

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U.S. beef exports this year are forecast to exceed the level of the last two years and perhaps that of the record year in 2018, according to Derrell Peel, Extension livestock marketing specialist at Oklahoma State University.

As noted in Cattle Current last week, U.S. beef exports set another new value record in April at $808.3 million, up 35% from a year ago, according to data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation. Export volume was 23% more year over year and the fifth largest on record at 121,050 metric tons (mt).

“Beef exports represent a component of total beef demand in terms of quantity and value,” Peel says, in his weekly market comments. “Moreover, beef exports represent a wide range of product types and qualities exported to various markets and augment domestic beef demand by providing markets for products less desired in the U.S.” He explains exporting products that have more value to international consumers than domestic ones enables maximizing domestic beef value.

U.S. beef export value per head of fed slaughter reached a new monthly high in April at $367.45.

More broadly, total global food and agricultural exports grew by almost $52 billion last year (+3.2% annualized), according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Developing countries accounting for about 40% of the increase.

This year, FAO forecasts global agricultural exports to increase 8%, or $137 billion. Much of that growth reflects demand from East Asia.

FAO analysts expect meat production this year to increase 2% to 346 million tons, reflecting an anticipated rebound in meat production in China, especially for pork.

“The average worldwide consumer price of protein in May 2021 was 23% above its May 2020 level,” according to FAO’s semiannual Food Outlook. “Calories, in prices, meanwhile, were up 34% year-on-year and hit their highest level since February 2013. The difference reflects stronger price rises for wheat, coarse grains and vegetable oils compared to meats, dairy products and fish.”

Cattle Current Daily—June 16, 2021 2021-06-15T19:01:31-05:00

Cattle Current Daily, June 15, 2021

Negotiated cash fed cattle trade was limited on very light demand in Nebraska through Monday afternoon, according to the Agricultural Marketing Service. There were a few live sales at $124/cwt., but too few to trend. Elsewhere, trade was at a standstill.

Live prices last week were at mostly $119-$120 in the Southern Plains, $120 in Nebraska and $120-$121 in the western Corn Belt. Dressed trade was at $190-$191.

Feeder Cattle futures roared higher Monday, buoyed by a sharp break in Corn futures. Live Cattle futures edged higher, with interest apparently constrained by what appears to be post-top wholesale prices for a while.

Feeder Cattle futures closed an average of $2.78 higher ($2.00 higher at the back to $3.42 higher at the front). That’s right at an average of $5 higher in the last two sessions.

Live Cattle futures closed an average of 48¢ higher.

Choice boxed beef cutout value was $2.09 lower through Monday afternoon at $335.47/cwt. Select was $1.80 lower at $303.41.

Grain futures prices fell Monday, swamped by more weekend rain than expected in the Corn Belt, as well as increased chances for rain and cooler temperatures in that region for the next couple of weeks.

Corn futures closed 25¢ to 31¢ lower through Jly ‘22, and mostly 13¢ and 16¢ lower. 

Soybean futures closed mostly 31¢ to 41¢ lower.

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Major U.S. financial indices closed mixed Monday, with the strongest performance in tech stocks.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 85 points lower. The S&P 500 closed 7 points higher. The NASDAQ closed 104 points higher.

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Nationally, pasture and range conditions held about steady, according to the latest USDA Crop Progress report, for the week ending June 13.

35% of pasture and range was rated as Good (28%) or Excellent (7%), the same as a week earlier, but 10% less than a year earlier. Conversely, 36% was rated as Poor (20%) or Very Poor (16%), compared to 37% a week earlier and 22% a year earlier.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor (week beginning June 10), 61.2% of the continental U.S. ranged from abnormally dry to Exceptional Drought. That was 2.1% more than the previous week, but 5.2% less than at the beginning of the year.

Crop progress continues strong for row crops.

96% of corn was emerged, which was 2% more than last year and 5% more than the five-year average. 68% was in Good (56%) or Excellent (12%) condition, which was 4% less than the previous week and 3% less than the five-year average.

94% of soybeans were in the ground, which was 2% more than last year and 6% more than the average. 86% were emerged, which was 7% more than the prior year and 12% more than the five-year average. 62% were in Good (53%) or Excellent (9%) condition, which was 5% less than the previous week and 10% less than the same week last year.

92% of winter wheat was headed, compared to 90% the previous year and 92% for the five-year average. 4% was harvested, which was 10% less than a year earlier and 11% less than average. 48% was rated in Good (40%) or Excellent (8%) condition, compared to 50% the prior week and a year earlier. 20% was rated Poor (14%) or Very Poor (6%) compared to 18% a week earlier and 19% at the same time last year.

Cattle Current Daily, June 15, 2021 2021-06-14T22:16:58-05:00

Cattle Current Daily—June 14, 2021

Negotiated cash fed cattle trade was at a standstill in the Southern Plains through Friday afternoon, according to the Agricultural Marketing Service. Elsewhere, it ranged from limited to mostly inactive on light demand with too few transactions to trend.

Negotiated cash fed cattle prices for the week were mainly steady at mostly $120/cwt. on a live basis, except for $2 higher in the western Corn belt at $122. Dressed trade was steady at $190-$191.

Cattle futures gained Friday with support from softer Corn futures, continued elevated consumer demand and the likelihood improved supply fundamentals are getting closer.

Feeder Cattle futures closed an average of $2.19 higher ($1.57 higher at the back to $2.77 higher at the front).

Live Cattle futures closed an average of $1.16 higher.

Choice boxed beef cutout value was 48¢ lower at $337.77/cwt. Select was $4.89 lower at $305.51.

Estimated total cattle slaughter the week ending June 12 was 665,000 head, according to USDA. That was 127,000 more than the previous holiday-shortened week. Estimated beef production of 545.7 million lbs. was 102.7 million lbs. more.

Corn and Soybean Futures softened Friday with more near-term rain forecast for the Corn Belt and likely week-end profit taking.

Corn futures closed mostly 1¢ to 6¢ lower, except for 14¢ and 8¢ lower in the front two contracts.

Soybean futures closed 20¢ to 35¢ lower through Jan ‘22, 11¢ to 18¢ lower through the next five contracts, and then mostly 3¢ to 6¢ lower.

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Major U.S. financial indices closed higher again Friday, with investors apparently feeling confident the surging inflation suggested by the previous day’s Consumer Price Index is transitory.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 13 points higher. The S&P 500 closed 8 points higher. The NASDAQ was up 49 points. 

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USDA announced Friday it is beginning work on three proposed rules to support enforcement of the Packers and Stockyards (P&S) Act.

“The Packers and Stockyards Act is a vital tool for protecting farmers and ranchers from excessive concentration and unfair, deceptive practices in the poultry, hog, and cattle markets, but the law is 100 years old and needs to take into account modern market dynamics. It should not be used as a safe harbor for bad actors,” says Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “The process we’re beginning today will seek to strengthen the fairness and resiliency of livestock markets on behalf of farmers, ranchers and growers.”

First, USDA intends to propose a new rule that will provide greater clarity to strengthen enforcement of unfair and deceptive practices, undue preferences, and unjust prejudices. Second, USDA will propose a new poultry grower tournament system rule, with the current inactive proposal to be withdrawn. Third, USDA will re-propose a rule to clarify that parties do not need to demonstrate harm to competition in order to bring an action under section 202 (a) and 202 (b) of the P&S Act.

As an aside, the latter point will likely be a sticky subject. Previously, much of the cattle industry rallied against a similar proposal. In part, the opposition was based on worries that it would lead packers to pay the same price to everyone — no premiums or discounts — rather than risk lawsuits.

USDA’s pending action was noted in the Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions released by the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

Earlier last week, USDA announced $4 billion in assistance as part of the Build Back Better initiative, an effort designed to strengthen and transform critical parts of the U.S. food system. Investments made through Build Back Better will include a mix of grants, loans and innovative financing to address the shortage of small meat processing facilities across the country as well as the necessary local and regional food system infrastructure needed to support them.

Cattle Current Daily—June 14, 2021 2021-06-13T16:54:38-05:00

Cattle Current Daily—June 11, 2021

Compared to the previous month, USDA increased projected 2021 beef production by 5 million lbs. to 27.905 billion lbs., in the latest World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE). Analysts with the Economic Research Service (ERS) note higher expected cow slaughter is largely offset by lower steer and heifer slaughter.

USDA forecast the five-area direct fed steer price 70¢ higher for this year to $117/cwt., reflecting current price strength. Projected average prices are $120 in the second quarter, $115 in the third quarter and $120 in the fourth quarter.

Negotiated cash fed cattle trade in the Southern Plains was at a standstill through Thursday afternoon, according to the Agricultural Marketing Service. For the week so far, live sales are at $119-$120/cwt.

Elsewhere, trade ranged from slow to inactive on light demand.

Live sales in Nebraska and the western Corn Belt earlier in the week were at $120 on a live basis and at $190-$191 in the beef.

Cattle futures traded mostly higher on Thursday, amid light trade, especially for Live Cattle.

Feeder Cattle futures closed an average of 36¢ higher.

Live Cattle futures closed an average of 19¢ higher, except for down an average of 10¢ in the back two contracts.

Choice boxed beef cutout value was 40¢ lower Thursday afternoon at $338.25/cwt. Select was $2.53 higher at $310.40

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Despite USDA lowering projecting beginning and ending corn stocks by 150 million bu. in the latest World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates, Corn Futures trended mostly 3¢ to 6¢ higher with support from the weather outlook. The WASDE left the projected season-average corn price unchanged at $5.70/bu.

USDA forecast beginning soybean stocks (2021-22) 15 million bu. more month to month. Ending stocks were projected 15 million bu. higher at 155 million bu. The season-average soybean price remained unchanged at $13.85/bu.

Soybean futures closed mixed, with the front three contracts down fractionally to 18¢, then up between 4¢ to 11¢ through Sep ’22.

Soybean futures closed 13¢ and 18¢ lower in the front two contracts, then mainly 8¢ to 11¢ higher through new-year contracts, followed by mostly 5¢ to 7¢ lower the rest of the way.

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Major U.S. financial indices closed higher on Thursday, despite the Consumer Price Index coming in a little stronger than expected. A wide array of analysts viewed increased consumer prices as expected in the categories bolstered by the reopening of the economy rather than a long-term rise in inflation.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 19 points higher. The S&P 500 closed 20 points higher. The NASDAW was up 109 points.

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JBS USA (JBS) announced yesterday it’s investing $130 million to increase production capacities at two of its major beef processing facilities in Nebraska. The company is on schedule to complete, in late summer, a significant expansion of its Grand Island beef production facility, including the construction of a new harvest floor and enhanced animal welfare facilities. JBS is also expanding cooler capacity and upgrading the fabrication floor at its Omaha beef production facility. The expanded facilities and upgrades will increase processing capacity by nearly 300,000 head of cattle per year, according to the company.

“At JBS USA, we recognize the importance and cultural significance of beef – from the men and women who raise cattle, to the frontline essential workers who process beef, to the families who enjoy a tender steak or hamburger as part of the family meal,” says Tim Schellpeper, President of the JBS USA Fed Beef business unit. “Our longstanding commitment to the U.S. beef industry and continued reinvestment in its success will help ensure that beef remains at the center of plates around the world for years to come.”

To ensure consistent access to a skilled workforce, JBS also increased annualized wages by $150 million over the last 12 months. This permanent yearly investment is in addition to more than $71 million in short-term incentives and non-permanent bonus payments JBS provided to its U.S. beef workforce during the pandemic.

The JBS USA Grand Island facility is a two-shift, beef-processing plant in central Nebraska employing more than 3,600 people. Grand Island has the capacity to process more than 1.4 million cattle per year and currently exports to 20 different countries. The Omaha facility is a single-shift, beef processing plant employing more than 650 people. The plant offers a range of high-end specialty beef products.

Cattle Current Daily—June 11, 2021 2021-06-10T20:36:21-05:00

Cattle Current Daily—June 10, 2021

Negotiated cash fed cattle trade in the Southern Plains, Nebraska and Western Corn Belt was limited on moderate demand through Wednesday afternoon, according to the Agricultural Marketing Service. In the Texas Panhandle live sales were steady to 50¢ lower than last week at $119.50 to $120.00/cwt. In Kansas, live sales traded mostly steady at $120.00. In Nebraska, a few live sales traded from $120 to $121.

Cattle futures traded mixed Wednesday. Higher Corn futures pressured Feeder Cattle once again, while steady cash helped Live Cattle tread water.

Feeder Cattle futures closed an average of $1.11 lower (52 to $1.47 lower), except for unchanged and up $1.02 in the back two contracts.

Live Cattle futures closed narrowly mixed, from an average of 36¢ lower to an average of 35¢ higher.

Choice boxed beef cutout value was 4¢ higher Wednesday afternoon at $338.65/cwt. Select was $1.69 higher at $307.87

Grain markets were mixed on Wednesday, with corn futures getting help from ethanol demand and soybeans down across most of the board. The monthly World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates due out Thursday will likely have plenty to say about direction for the rest of the week.

Corn futures closed mostly 2¢ to 4¢ higher.

Soybean futures closed 13¢ to 17¢ lower through the front three contracts and then mostly 3¢ to 7¢ lower.

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Major U.S. financial indices closed lower on Wednesday with investors apparently jittery about Thursday’s inflation reading.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 153 points lower. The S&P 500 closed 8 points lower. The NASDAQ was down 13 points.

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U.S. beef exports set another new value record in April at $808.3 million, up 35% from a year ago, according to data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). Export volume was 23% more year-over-year and the fifth largest on record at 121,050 metric tons (mt).

“Looking back at April 2020, it was a difficult month for red meat exports as we began to see COVID-related supply chain interruptions, and foodservice demand took a major hit in many key markets,” says Dan Halstrom, USMEF President and CEO. “While it is no surprise that exports performed much better in April 2021, we are pleased to see that global demand continued to build on the broad-based growth achieved in March.”

Beef export value per head of fed slaughter reached a new monthly high in April at $367.45.

As for customers, April beef exports to South Korea increased 21% from a year ago and just missed setting a new value record at $182.7 million. Beef exports to China continued to soar in April, reaching a record 17,233 mt (up from just 1,367 mt a year ago). Export value to China was $130.6 million – up from $11.5 million.

U.S. pork exports built on the previous month’s record pace as well. Pork exports were the sixth largest on record in April at 269,918 mt, up 2% from a year ago. Export value was $749.2 million, up 10% and the fourth highest on record.

Halstrom cautioned that the COVID-19 pandemic is still a major concern for the U.S. meat industry, adding uncertainty to the business climate in many export destinations. Logistical challenges, including container shortages and ongoing vessel congestion at many U.S. ports, also present significant obstacles for red meat exports.

“While conditions are improving in many key markets, the COVID impact is the most intense it has ever been in Taiwan and heightened countermeasures are also in place in Japan and other Asian countries,” Halstrom explains. “But foodservice activity is climbing back in our Latin American markets and retail demand – both in traditional settings and in e-commerce – has been outstanding and USMEF continues to find innovative ways for the U.S. industry to capitalize on these opportunities. We are also working with ag industry partners and regulatory agencies to find ways to improve the flow of outbound cargo, which is essential to maintaining export growth.”

Cattle Current Daily—June 10, 2021 2021-06-09T19:37:40-05:00

Cattle Current Daily—June 9, 2021

Negotiated cash fed cattle trade was at a standstill in the Texas Panhandle through Tuesday afternoon, according to the Agricultural Marketing Service. Last week in the Southern Plains, live sales traded at $120. In Nebraska and the Western Corn Belt, trade was slow on moderate demand. Live sales in Nebraska traded steady at $120, dressed at $190-$191. In the Western Corn Belt, a few lives sales traded from $120-$121 and dressed from $190-$193. In Kansas, trading was limited on light demand with a few live sales at $119.

Cattle futures traded mixed Tuesday with Feeder Cattle mainly pressured by higher Corn futures, while Live Cattle edged higher, helped along by early cash direction.

Feeder Cattle futures closed an average of 59¢ lower through the front half of the board and then an average of 30¢ higher, except for $1.15 lower in the back contract.

Live Cattle futures closed an average of 36¢ higher, except for 30¢ lower in the back contract.

Choice boxed beef cutout value was 1¢ higher Tuesday afternoon at $338.61/cwt. Select was $2.99 lower at $306.18

A continued hot and dry forecast in the Midwest and Northern Plains helped push  grain markets higher on Tuesday.

Corn futures closed mostly 6¢ to 9¢ higher.

Soybean futures closed mostly 6¢ to 17¢ higher, except for 15¢ to 17¢ lower in most ‘23 contracts.

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Major U.S. financial indices were little changed Tuesday with some investors likely waiting for Thursday’s inflation reading that comes with the consumer price index. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 31 lower. The S&P 500 closed 1 point higher. The NASDAQ up 43 points.

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Good, bad or otherwise, the state of cattle markets is drawing more Congressional attention.

Yesterday, Representative Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) introduced the Optimizing the Cattle Market Act of 2021 in the U.S. House. The legislation builds on a growing consensus among cattle producers, industry leaders, and Members of Congress that current market dynamics are unsustainable for the beef supply chain.

If enacted, the bill would direct the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to create a cattle formula contracts library, and increase the reporting window for “cattle committed” from seven to 14 days. These measures would increase transparency in the industry and improve the opportunity for robust price discovery.

Rep. Hartzler’s legislation also reiterates the need for expedited reauthorization of USDA’s Livestock Mandatory Reporting (LMR) program. That jibes with one of the recommendations from the coalition of national cattlemen’s organizations that met last month.

The bill would also require USDA, in consultation with the Chief Economist, to establish mandated minimums for regional negotiated cash and negotiated grid live cattle trade. Minimums would be set within two years of passage of the bill, and would invite stakeholder input through a public comment period and the consideration of key, peer-reviewed research from land grant universities.

Mandatory requirements versus voluntary ones remain a difference of opinion between producers and producer groups. In the case of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), for instance, grassroots policy supports voluntary regional minimums, but also provides for pursuing a legislative or regulatory solution determined by membership. 

“The growing momentum we’re seeing in the House and Senate behind addressing these critical concerns in the cattle markets is reflective of the urgency producers are feeling across the country,” says Ethan Lane,  NCBA Vice President of Government Affairs. “Extreme market volatility, unpredictable input costs, a shifting regulatory landscape and natural crises like drought leave cattle farmers and ranchers with a growing list of threats to their continued financial viability. Something needs to give.”

Also on Tuesday, Representative Mike Guest (R-MS) and Representative Darren Soto (D-FL) led a bipartisan group of 52 lawmakers in pushing the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to complete its investigation into the meatpacking sector, and whether or not anticompetitive practices have contributed to a persistent imbalance in the cattle markets.

Cattle Current Daily—June 9, 2021 2021-06-08T19:48:05-05:00

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