So far for the week, negotiated cash fed cattle prices on a live basis are $1 higher in the Southern Plains at $97/cwt., $2 higher in Nebraska at $100, steady in Colorado at $98 and steady to $2 higher in the western Corn Belt at $100-$102. Dressed prices are $2 higher at $160.
Cattle futures closed higher again Thursday. Along with cash strength, support included bullish export news with net sales of 29,500 metric tons (mt) for the week of July 23—a market year high—up 89% from the previous week and up 81% from the previous four-week average. That according to the U.S. Export Sales report from USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service.
Except for 15¢ lower in away Oct, Live Cattle futures closed an average of 41¢ higher.
Feeder Cattle futures closed an average of $1.05 higher (67¢ higher at the back to $1.85 higher toward the front).
Choice boxed beef cutout value was 69¢ higher Thursday afternoon at $201.80/cwt. Select was $2.01 higher at $191.50.
The average dressed steer weight the week ending July 18 of 899 lbs. was 3 lbs. less than the prior week but 33 lbs. more than the same week a year earlier, according to USDA’s Actual Slaughter Under Federal Inspection report. The average dressed heifer weight of 829 lbs. was the same as a week earlier but 34 lbs. heavier than the prior year.
Corn futures closed mostly fractionally higher.
Soybean futures closed mostly 1¢ to 2¢ higher.
Except for the tech sector, major U.S. financial indices closed lower Thursday, pressured by the expected but historic decline in second-quarter GDP.
Real gross domestic product decreased at an annual rate of 32.9% in the second quarter, according to the advance estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Real GDP in the first quarter decreased 5%.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 225 points lower. The S&P 500 closed 12 points lower. The NASDAQ closed 44 points higher.
Potentially, the heated debate and hectic work related to enhancing price discovery in cash fed cattle markets reached a crossroads this week.
The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s (NCBA) Live Cattle Marketing Committee and the NCBA Board of Directors unanimously passed policy that supports voluntary efforts to improve cash fed cattle trade during the next 90 days, with the potential for mandates in the future if robust regional cash trade numbers are not reached by the industry.
Specifically, according to the organization’s resolution:
“NCBA supports a voluntary approach that:
“1) Increases frequent and transparent negotiated trade to regionally sufficient level, to achieve robust price discovery determined by NCBA funded and directed research in all major cattle feeding regions, and
“2) Includes triggers to be determined by a working group of NCBA producer leaders by October 1, 2020.
“BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, if the voluntary approach does not achieve robust price discovery as determined by NCBA funded and directed research, and meet the established triggers that increase frequent and transparent negotiated trade to a regionally sufficient level, and triggers are activated, NCBA will pursue a legislative or regulatory solution determined by the membership.
“BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, NCBA support a three-year review/sunset provision on any negotiated trade solutions implemented to allow for a thorough cost benefit analysis to be conducted.”
That came after intense debate and more than six hours of wrangling, not to mention the years of effort leading up to it, including the research referenced in the resolution.
As an aside, depending on cash trade levels deemed sufficient in each region, there are a number of ways to achieve a deeper pool of cash fed cattle trade data, everything from changing the approach to confidentiality in livestock mandatory reporting (up for reauthorization in September), to bid-the-grid base prices, to a number of other voluntary options mentioned in the recent USDA Boxed Beef & Fed Cattle Price Spread Investigation Report. Stephen Koontz, agricultural economist at Colorado State University previously outlined many of those options in his ongoing research.
“The policy we passed today is the result of every state cattlemen’s association coming together to work through their differences and finding solutions that meet the needs of their members, all of whom agree that our industry needs more robust price discovery,” says NCBA President Marty Smith. “This policy provides all players in the industry the opportunity to achieve that goal without seeking government mandates.”
The Live Cattle Marketing Committee considered several proposals, each aimed at encouraging greater volumes of cash cattle trade.