Cattle futures, fell hard again Friday as traders continue to exit contracts and beef demand uncertainty grows.
Live Cattle futures closed an average of $3.52 lower ($2.55 to limit-down $4.50 in spot April).
Feeder Cattle futures closed limit-down $4.50.
Wholesale beef values were steady to weak on light to moderate demand and moderate to heavy offerings, according to the Agricultural Marketing Service.
Choice boxed beef cutout value was 73¢ lower Friday afternoon at $252.84/cwt. Select was 21¢ higher at $242.38.
Corn futures closed mostly 2¢ to 3¢ lower.
After unchanged to 1¢ higher in the front three contracts, Soybean futures closed mostly 6¢ to 9¢ lower.
Major U.S. financial indices closed sharply lower Friday, as investors seemed to focus more on COVID-19 and its ultimate impact than the massive stimulus bill passed by Congress.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 915 points lower. The S&P 500 closed 88 points lower. The NASDAQ was down 295 points.
“As tough as today is for cattle producers, the longer the coronavirus lasts, the more damage will be done. In response to the unprecedented and devastating impact of this pandemic on our industry, Congress enacted Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The CARES Act provides USDA’s Office of the Secretary with an additional $9.5 billion ‘to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus’,” according to a letter sent to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Friday, from the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and 46 state affiliates.
The letter encourages Perdue to consider several principles as USDA develops vehicles to deliver this assistance to cattle producers. Among them:
- “As the largest segment of the U.S. agriculture industry, U.S. cattle production accounts for $67 billion (18%) of the $371 billion in total cash receipts from agricultural commodities in 2018. We are present in all fifty states on 729,000 farm operations that are the lifeblood of our rural economies. While coronavirus has undoubtedly impacted all segments of American agriculture, the impact of this crisis is uniquely acute for cattle producers who are not eligible for traditional safety net programs offered by USDA and the Small Business Administration.
- “While there are multiple preliminary economic assessments relative to the impact of coronavirus on cattle markets, we believe that no single entity is better equipped than USDA to lead this effort. We encourage USDA to implement this effort by utilizing its unique expertise and available resources, while also working directly with the academic community and livestock industry experts to determine the full extent of need and most equitable measures of response.
- “Marketing cattle in the United States is, by nature, highly volatile and complex with multiple links in the cattle supply chain. Cow-calf producers, seedstock producers, stockers and backgrounding operations, and cattle feeders have all been impacted by this pandemic. We believe assistance must be delivered equitably across all producer segments of the cattle supply chain based on need. Further, business size and structure are not reliable determinants of financial need or viability during this unprecedented occurrence and should not be a prohibiting factor for eligibility.
- “We firmly believe that economic assistance for cattle producers should not only prioritize financial loss due to COVID-19, but also be market-oriented, not disrupt or mask market signals, and not be a permanent subsidy program.