Monday, July 4, 2011


AUTHOR'S NOTE - All of the premises presented in this series of posts are solely based on personal experience as a livestock producer and strictly as a cattleman (I have a basic understanding of farm commodities markets, but no real experience with such, and cannot speak with much authority from the farm side of things; Though I would think there are going to be some similarities). The information represents my opinion and is based on personal experiences. Any factual information may or may not be referenced, but be aware, the majority of the content is personal conjecture. Dialogue and comment are welcome.

Well...several months of research and data down the drain! 

Here I was, all set to show you how the retail price to the customer was going to sky rocket this summer, how the price of corn and feed grains were too high for cattle producers to profit and, in general complain about how the cattle producer was being squeezed. 

Then, last week (June 30, to be exact), The USDA released "The Crop Report". 

Let me set this up...
In a nutshell, I was going to show:

1. Based on the late spring flooding of hundreds of thousands of acres of corn through the Midwest to Arkansas and Louisiana, the persistent cool weather and rains across the farm belt that have delayed annual plantings, and the devastating effects of storms and tornados across the mid-section of our country as well as through the South would drive the prices of corn and grains to all time highs. 

2. Because these commodities were the back bone of "grain fed" beef, the price of consumer prices for beef would rise, while the cattle producer would struggle to make a profit DUE to the higher costs associated with feeding cattle grain. 

AND, I was right (ever so briefly) ...corn and soybean prices were soaring and cattle producers, who are currently reaping very high prices for their cattle, were having their profit squeezed by the high cost of feeding corn...

Which brings me back to "The Crop Report"......

Turns out, the expected 2011 corn harvest will be much higher than expected and the harvest of other important food grains are also going to be well above average......This caused both corn and soybeans to back off of their "highs" by more than 10%. Grain commodities will continue to trend down over the next few weeks to very manageable cost levels for the beef industry.

GRAINS-U.S. corn extends losses after USDA report
                                                                                        Reuters News Service

So, what we have, currently, is the most rare of events in the cattle markets. The producer is actually receiving record prices for cattle while also enjoying "cheap feed"!! In other words, cattle producers are in a position to maximize profits not only through "lower input costs", but also while receiving historically high prices for their livestock.

Compared to last week’s sharply higher market, yearling feeder cattle 
continued their momentum and sold firm to 5.00 higher.  Steer and heifer calf 
demand improved on the heels of last week’s gains and traded from steady to 
6.00 higher with instances as much as 10.00 higher.  The most impressive 
signal of this week’s higher trade was the fact that it took place on fairly 
heavy receipts for this time of year with no help from the CME futures or fed 
cattle trade until the tail-end of the week." - USDA CATTLE AUCTION REPORT, JULY 1, 2011

Meanwhile, consumer prices for retail beef are still going up due to the inverse relationship with the above financial factors...the record high prices paid to producers are being "passed along" to the consumer.

"...higher corn costs—all higher costs—ultimately wend their way through the system and wind up in the retail price of the product..."  Burt Rutherford, Senior Editor, Beef Magazine


  1. Popping the champagne corks and revving up the private jet? Or just paying off bills and hanging on to it until the next seesaw in prices?

  2. More like Hoarding. This "Exacta" of high cattle prices AND low feed costs just does not happen often...Actually, this situation is not as beneficial for grass fed producers since we are not involved in the "feeding process" that makes up the bulk of the meat industry. However, we are "tickled pink" at the current value of sales. :)