The growing likelihood that the U.S. would impose increased and expanded tariffs on Chinese imports Friday morning cast a pall over equity and futures markets Thursday. However, late session buying capped losses in Cattle futures.
Other than 87¢ and 20¢ higher in the front two contracts, Live Cattle futures closed an average of 15¢ lower.
Feeder Cattle futures closed an average of 37¢ higher.
Wholesale beef values were weak on light to moderate demand and moderate to heavy offerings, according to the Agricultural Marketing Service.
Choice boxed beef cutout value was 54¢ lower Thursday afternoon at $222.47/cwt. Select was 41¢ lower at $207.08.
Grain futures fell hard, presumably pressured by the aforementioned trade news, as well as defensiveness ahead of Friday’s monthly World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates.
Corn futures closed mostly 8¢ to 11¢ lower through the front five contracts and then mostly 4¢ to 5¢ lower.
Soybean futures closed 11¢ to 14¢ lower through Aug ’20 and then mostly 6¢ to 9¢ lower.
Major U.S. financial indices closed lower Thursday, with the White House apparently ready to increase tariffs on Chinese imports Friday morning.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 138 points lower. The S&P 500 closed 8 points lower. The NASDAQ was down 32 points.
It’s no secret that the average age of agricultural producers continues to increase.
For instance, the average age of all U.S. farm producers in 2017 was 57.5 years, according to the 2017 Census of Agriculture. That was up 1.2 years from 2012. Only 8% of producers were younger than 35 years old; 34% were more than 65 years old.
Often missed in the conversation, though, is the fact that the average age of farm laborers is increasing, too, according to USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS).
“Over the past decade, the average age of hired farm laborers (excluding managers, supervisors, and other supporting occupations) has risen steadily, from age 35.8 years in 2006 to 38.8 years in 2017, an increase of 8%,” according to a recent Amber Waves article by ERS economist, Thomas Hertz. “This increase has been entirely driven by the aging of foreign-born farm laborers, who comprised between 54% and 58% of the workforce over this period. Their average age rose from 35.7 in 2006 to 41.6 in 2017, an increase of 16%. In contrast, the average age of farm laborers born in the United States (including Puerto Rico) has remained roughly constant.”
Hertz explains the reduced flow of new immigrants since 2008 is the main reason age is increasing for the foreign-born farm laborer population.
“This diminishing flow is reflected in an increase in the average number of years since these workers’ original immigration, from 12.4 years in 2007 to 18.6 years in 2017,” Hertz says. “It is also reflected in a decline in the estimated numbers of unauthorized immigrants from Mexico who are in the country (counting all such people, not just farmworkers), which fell by about 22% between 2007 and 2016, according to the latest estimates from the Pew Research Center.
Incidentally, between 2006 and 2017, the share of female farm laborers increased from 19.5% to 25.0%, according to Hertz.