Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for November 23, 2020

U.S. cattle groups call for clear labels

  • Eric Nelson who farms and feeds cattle in northwest Iowa and also serves as Region 7 director for RCALF USA, believes that consumers would pay a premium for a beef product if they knew its country of origin.
  • Nelson stated that a growing percentage of beef consumed in the U.S. is imported and restoring MCOOL would assure U.S. consumers that they are eating the best beef in the world, U.S. beef.
  • MCOOL was repealed in 2015 after a complaint to the World Trade Organization from Canada and Mexico.
  • Vice president of government affairs for NCBA, Ethan Lane, says that NCBA supports origin labeling, but only voluntarily.
    • The organization believes the program should be market-driven rather than mandated.
  • Right now, producers have the ability to label their beef with country of origin under the Process Verified Program operated by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, said Lane. He believes this labeling option is enough to allow producers to capture more value in the supply chain.
  • Lane went on to say that the real issue is packers and retailers being able to use ‘Product of USA’ labeling on anything that goes through an FSIS facility.
    • NCBA believes this is misrepresentation because it speaks to the processing facility rather than the country of origin.
  • Nelson also has an issue with processing requirements.
    • “Right now, if you unwrap a pallet of frozen beef and then re-wrap it, you are meeting the further processing requirement,” stated Nelson. He feels that a mandatory program would counteract this issue.
  • Nelson went on to say that when MCOOL was repealed, the protection for labeling foreign beef disappeared. Nelson and RCALF plan to do all they can to bring back MCOOL.


Nebraska livestock show canceled

  • A few months ago, the Grand Island Livestock Complex Authority announced that they would be hosting the Nebraskan, a show that was meant to take the place of the National Western Stock Show in Denver since it had been postponed to 2022.
  • However, with the rising cases of Covid-19, the Grand Island, NE show has been cancelled.
  • Grand Island Livestock Complex Authority stakeholders reported that the pandemic would not allow for a high quality event to take place.



JBS plant in Greeley working to contain new early-stage Covid-19 outbreak

  • The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) has reported a new outbreak of Covid-19 at the Greeley JBS plant.
    • As of last Tuesday, 20 new cases were confirmed at the plant.
  • When the pandemic first began JBS was one of the largest single-location outbreaks in Colorado with 290 cases by the time it was considered resolved by the CDPHE on October 20th.
    • That outbreak resulted in six recorded deaths due to the virus.
  • Nikki Richardson, a spokesperson for JBS, said that active coronavirus cases decreased to 12 by Thursday, which was just 0.3 percent of the plant’s 4,000 workers.
  • According to Richardson, JBS believes that the majority of cases are coming into the plant population from outside the plant itself, instead of being spread within the plant.
  • Many employees have come forward saying that the company did not properly communicate about the early spread of the virus back in the spring. Additionally, some of the workforce has reported that JBS is not doing their part to compensate sick employees for the time they’ve missed due to quarantine and being too sick to work.
    • All of these claims have been denied by JBS and Richardson said that besides increasing surveillance testing and safety precautions, the company has also enhanced its health benefits to compensate Covid-19 related absences and health issues among its employees.
  • CDPHE is leading the investigation into this second outbreak and have been in communication with JBS’ workforce making sure that employees share any health and safety concerns.


October U.S cattle on feed report

  • Cattle on feed: 12 million head on November 1st, up 1 percent from year ago levels.
    • This is the highest November 1st inventory since the series began in 1996.
  • Placements during October totaled 2.19 million head, 11 percent below October 2019.
    • Net placements were 2.13 million head.
  • Marketings of fed cattle during October totaled 1.87 million head, slightly below 2019.


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $238.35 (+0.65)
  • Select boxed beef: $214.98 (+1.09)


Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for November 20, 2020

Tyson suspends Iowa plant managers amid virus betting claim

  • Yesterday, Tyson Foods suspended top officials at its largest pork plant in Waterloo, IA and an investigation was launched into allegations that the top officials were betting on how many workers would get infected with coronavirus.
  • Tyson’s CEO, Dean Banks, said that he was extremely upset about these allegations against the managers and that these actions do not represent the company’s values.
  • Tyson has received criticism over recently amended wrongful death lawsuits in which plaintiffs’ lawyer claim that Waterloo plant manager Tom Hart organized a cash buy-in, winter-take-all betting pool for supervisors and managers to wager on how many employees would test positive for Covid-19.
  • Supposedly, Hart organized the betting pool back in the spring when the virus spread through the Waterloo plant. At that time, more than 1,000 of the plants 2,800 workers tested positive for the virus and six were killed after being infected.
  • Democratic State Representative Ras Smith, whose district includes the Waterloo plant, said that the managers were knowingly allowing the virus to spread like wildfire throughout the plant and the community.
  • During the time of the alleged betting, Tyson was resisting pressure from local officials to shut down the plant as a safety precaution.
    • Tyson claimed that the plant, which can process close to 20,000 hogs per day, was a vital market for farmers and critical to the meat supply.
  • During the outbreak last spring, managers continually told workers that they needed to stay on the job to ensure that Americans didn’t go hungry. At the same time, those same managers were avoiding the plant floor themselves because they were afraid of contracting the virus.
  • John Casey, an upper-level manager, told workers that the virus was a “glorified flu” and “not a big deal.” He also told his subordinates to continue working even if they exhibited signs of the virus.
  • Tyson has asked a federal judge to dismiss the lawsuits, regarding the six individuals that died from the virus, stating that the exclusive remedy for workplace injuries under Iowa law is through the workers’ compensation system.
    • The company’s lawyers also claim that the plaintiffs have not been able to prove that the deceased workers contracted the virus at the plant and not elsewhere.


Panic-buying begins again and Covid-19 cases in rural America increase for the eighth straight week

  • People are starting to panic buy as fear spreads that there may be a second wave of product shortages in the near future.
  • Some retailers are starting to put limits on various paper items like toilet paper and paper towels. Retailers are also putting limits on cleaning supplies.
  • Covid-19 infections in rural America has broken records for eight straight weeks, and for the first time, rural Covid-19 deaths topped 2,000. These deaths set a record for the fourth straight week.
  • The number of cases in rural areas has increased by 36 percent, more than double the number from three weeks ago.


Unfounded rumors fuel fear

  • Yesterday, the cattle futures took a dive as rumors spread about packing plant slowdowns or closures due to Covid-19. None of these rumors are accurate.
  • A few true facts to currently consider:
    • Steer carcass weights have dropped another 2 lbs. week over week to 924 pounds. This is down 7 lbs. from the high two weeks ago, signaling that carcass weights may have finally found a ceiling.
    • As of midday yesterday, choice boxed beef rallied to $238, inches away from the 2019 November high.
    • Packer margins continue to increase into record territory for November with cash cattle prices barely holding steady this week.
  • Even though packing plants are using great caution when it comes to Covid-19, fear mongering has been rippling through the cattle markets all week.


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $237.70 (+1.86)
  • Select boxed beef: $213.89 (+0.27)

Current Cattle Market Headlines for Thursday November 19, 2020

“Remember this acronym: RCEP”

  • Last weekend, fifteen Asian and Oceanic countries came together to form the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP); the world’s largest multi-country trade agreement, accounting for one-third of the global economy and half the global population.
    • Countries included in the partnership are Australia, China, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
  • Discussions to form RCEP began back in 2018, while trade conflicts between the U.S. and various trade partners, including China, were starting to flare up.
  • This is the first such global free trade agreement that is not anchored by the U.S., instead China is the largest economy included in the alliance.
  • The RCEP is less comprehensive than the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which President Trump withdrew from in 2017.
  • According to the USDA, China has been importing record levels of consumer-oriented food products over the last few years. In 2019, the country imported $73 billion worth of beef, pork and chicken.
    • Even though the U.S. and China have the phase one bilateral trade deal, the United States’ share of this business has been declining.
  • According to Joe Schuele, vice president of communications for the U.S. Meat Export Federation, even though the U.S. meat industry faces tariff disadvantages in some RCEP countries, those tariff gaps predate this agreement.
    • USMEF does not expect a major impact on red meat trade even though RCEP is the world’s largest trade agreement, said Schuele.


New agriculture alliance seeks to tackle climate change

  • Groups representing farmers, forest owners, the food sector, state governments and environmental advocates have come together in an alliance to release a set of guidelines aiding the development of federal climate policy.
  • The original groups, which included the American Farm Bureau Federation, Environmental Defense Fund, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives and National Farmers Union, developed The Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance (FACA) in February 2020.
    • Since that time, the alliance has expanded to include The Food Industry Association, National Alliance of Forest Owners, National Association of State Departments of Agriculture and The Nature Conservancy.
  • The alliance produced more than forty recommendations based on three principles:
    • Agricultural and forestry climate policies must be built upon voluntary, incentive-based programs and market-driven opportunities.
    • The principles must promote resilience and adaption in rural communities.
    • The principles must be science-based.
  • According to Zippy Duvall, FACA Co-chair and President of the American Farm Bureau Federation, it was important for the alliance to reject punitive climate policy ideas of the past, and instead favor policies that respect farmers and support positive change.
  • Numerous FACA organizations are also members of Farmers for a Sustainable Future, which was also created in February 2020.
    • NCBA and the National Pork Producers Council are a part of Farmers for a Sustainable Future.


Whole Foods adds a new plant-based bacon

  • Whole Foods announced this week that it will carry a new plant-based bacon product, Hooray bacon. This product will be available at 300 of its stores.
  • Hooray bacon is composed of mostly coconut oil, rice flour, tapioca starch, liquid smoke, mushrooms, salt, maple syrup and beet juice.
  • When compared to Oscar Mayer bacon, Hooray bacon has no protein, while Oscar Mayer bacon has 5 grams of protein. Hooray bacon contains 6 grams of carbs and Oscar Mayer bacon contains zero carbs.


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $235.84 (+2.12)
  • Select boxed beef: $213.62 (-0.34)

Current Cattle Market Headlines for Wednesday November 18, 2020

Beyond Meat plans to launch two new versions of its meatless burger

  • Beyond Meat is set to launch two new versions of its Beyond Burger nationwide early next year.
  • According to the company, one of the new burgers will be its juiciest yet with 35 percent less saturated fat than a burger made from a blend of beef that is 80 percent lean meat and 20 percent fat.
  • The second burger is meant to appeal to the more health-minded consumer as it has 55 percent less saturated fat than a typical beef burger.
  • Both burgers will have B vitamins and minerals similar to beef.
  • Even though Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods have seen their popularity grow over recent years, Dietitians say it would be better for consumers to view plant-based burgers as an indulgence, much like someone would with a beef burger.
  • Just this year, shares of Beyond Meat have increased by 66 percent. The company has a market value of $7.88 billion.


China’s irritated trade partners push back on coronavirus food tests

  • China claims that the country has found coronavirus on products from 20 different countries including German pork, Brazilian beef and Indian fish.
    • Nevertheless, foreign officials say there is a lack of evidence produced by Chinese authorities proving these claims.
  • Numerous major-food producing countries are growing continually frustrated over these allegations by China and officials say trade has been damaged, along with the reputation of imported food for no reason.
  • The World Trade Organization hosted a meeting on November 5th and 6th, where Canada said that China’s testing of imported foods and rejection of products that had positive nucleic acid tests are unjustified trade restrictions.
  • Australia, Brazil, Mexico, Britain and the U.S. supported Canada as the country claimed that China had not provided scientific justification for their outrageous actions.
  • Since the meeting, China has only intensified its imported food screening.
  • The Global Times, a tabloid backed by China’s ruling communist party, said that the discovery of coronavirus on food increases the possibility that the virus may have come from overseas rather than the central Chinese city of Wuhan, as many believe that’s where the virus originated last year.
  • Even though the World Health Organization has said all along that neither food nor packaging are known transmission routes for the virus, China began testing chilled and frozen food imports in June.
  • According to a Beijing-based diplomat, there hasn’t been one single lab analysis proving actual coronavirus on imported products to China.
  • On Monday, New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, also questioned China’s claims after the city of Jinan reported that it had found coronavirus on frozen New Zealand beef.
    • Ardern said that she was sure no meat products exported from her country were contaminated with the virus.
  • In response to the World Trade Organization, China claims that its actions are “provisional based on scientific basis” and intended to “protect people’s lives to the maximum extent.”


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $233.72 (+6.77)
  • Select boxed beef: $213.96 (+1.61)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for November 17, 2020

Strong beef and pork results propel Tyson performance

  • Tyson Foods Inc. has posted a 40 percent increase in their fourth quarter adjusted operating income compared to the same time period in 2019.
  • Strong beef and pork sales contributed to this gain and helped the company offset weaknesses in their chicken and international units.
  • Adjusted beef sales in the fourth quarter reached $4.0 billion, up 2.7 percent from year-ago levels. Adjusted net income for beef rose 19 percent to $483 million.
  • Pork adjusted sales rose 1 percent to $1.3 billion in the fourth quarter and adjusted net income for pork skyrocketed 500 percent to $162 million.
  • Tyson did report losses in their poultry sector with sales declining by 8 percent to $3.2 billion, adjusted prepared foods sales fell 2 percent to $2.1 billion and international sales declined 11 percent to $456 million.
  • Tyson’s 2020 fiscal year saw adjusted net income increase by 5 percent to $3.1 billion. The company’s adjusted sales stayed level at $42.4 billion.


Gross income for cattle by U.S. and state

  • Gross income for cattle in the United States for 2019 totaled $66.68 billion, down $793.3 million from the previous year.
  • Missouri saw the greatest loss in cattle income between the two years with a loss of $306.1 million.
  • A few notable states:
    • Nebraska saw a loss of $100.2 million
    • South Dakota saw a loss of $22.2 million
    • Montana saw a loss of $2.9 million
    • Wyoming saw a loss of $55.3 million


Speculation for secretary of agriculture heats up

  • As President elect Joe Biden begins his transition into the White House, names are beginning to surface for Secretary of Agriculture.
  • One of the top contenders, former North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp, has criticized the Trump administration for their trade policies and has been working to educate the Democrats on the many issues facing rural America.
  • Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, is also a front runner for the position. Klobuchar has been an advocate for increasing support of agriculture commodities, disaster programs and federal crop insurance. She is also being considered for Attorney General.
  • Another candidate is Marcia Fudge. Fudge currently serves as chair of the Nutrition Subcommittee, which oversees USDA operations. She has fought to protect nutrition programs and has focused on increasing USDA’s conservation programs. Additionally, Fudge led the way during the 2018 Farm Bill to protect water quality.


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $226.95 (+0.97)
  • Select boxed beef: $212.35 (+2.89)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for November 16, 2020

Biden review of USDA may have a climate mitigation perspective

  • President-elect Joe Biden’s focus during his transition to the white house has come down to four main issues: Covid-19, economic recovery, racial equity and climate change.
  • Agriculture has been a key topic associated with climate change. Biden’s transition team stated that Biden wants to create jobs in climate-smart agriculture, resilience, and conservation.
    • They believe the country is in a profound crisis, and now is the time to build a more resilient, sustainable economy- one that will put the U.S. on a path to achieve net-zero emissions, economy-wide, by no later than 2050.
  • According to the Washington Post, Biden is ready to implement climate change throughout the federal government. The newspaper said the transition team is considering ideas such as the creation of a “carbon bank” at the USDA to pay farm and forest owners to store carbon in their soils.
  • Biden’s USDA review team is made up seventeen individuals and at least eight of those are veterans of the Obama era.
    • The group has stated that the Biden administration plans to develop policy recommendations that incorporate agriculture and forestry as part of climate mitigation and shift the U.S. toward a low-carbon future.
  • During the Obama administration, many farm groups felt they were slighted in favor of the producers of organic and local food. Due to this, the administration’s relations with farm groups were hostile during his years in office.
  • Biden is still considering who he will appoint to Secretary of Agriculture.
    • Ohio Representative, Marcia Fudge said last week she would be honored to serve as Biden’s agriculture secretary. Fudge would be the first black woman to hold the cabinet post if chosen.
    • Former North Dakota Senator, Heidi Heitkamp has been the most frequently mentioned contender for the role.


China finds coronavirus on packaging of Brazilian beef

  • On Friday, the Chinese city of Wuhan detected coronavirus on the packaging of a batch of Brazilian beef from Marfrig Global Foods. This comes at a time when the country has increased their testing of frozen foods in a nationwide effort.
  • The boneless Brazilian beef entered the country at Qingdao port on August 7th and it reached Wuhan on August 17th, where it was placed in a cold storage facility until this week.
  • China began testing imported foods in June in hopes of reducing the spread of the virus.
  • Chinese authorities also found the virus on a package of Argentina beef last week, along with another imported beef sample that tested positive.
  • China is the world’s top beef buyer and Brazil and Argentina are its major suppliers.


Beef export sales highlights

  • Last week beef net sales of 14,300 metric tons were reported down 30 percent compared to the previous week and down 23 percent from the prior four-week average.
  • Beef exports of 14,200 metric tons were down 34 percent from the previous week and down 22 percent from the prior four-week average.


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $225.98 (-0.52)
  • Select boxed beef: $209.46 (+1.22)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for November 13, 2020

Marfrig benefits from record exports in Q3

  • Brazilian based meat processor, Marfrig, has recorded a net profit of $125 million in the third quarter of 2020. This is more than six times higher than the profit recorded last year during the same time period, $18.55 million.
  • Record exports from Marfrig’s South American operations and the Brazilian real devaluation against the U.S. dollar contributed to net revenue increasing by 32 percent to $3.12 billion for the meatpacker.
    • The company’s South American operations alone saw net revenue increase 26.3 percent to $890.3 million; caused by a 19.3 percent increase in export volume and a 35.5 percent devaluation of the Brazilian currency against the U.S. dollar.
  • Although the company reported record-high sales volume in North America, net revenue in the region fell by 0.6 percent to $2.2 billion because of a 4.8 percent decrease in average sales prices in the U.S. domestic market.
  • Fifty-one percent of Marfrig’s total export revenue from South America came from sales to China and Hong Kong. Export revenue from sales to the U.S. increased by 100 percent in the third quarter.


JBS’ profit soars in Q3; U.S. beef production recovers

  • Brazil’s JBS SA has recorded a net profit of $581.1 million for the third quarter; this is almost nine times higher than the net profit recorded during the same period in 2019.
  • The company’s total revenue increased by 34.3 percent to $13 billion.
  • JBS USA reported a net revenue increase of 28.7 percent for the third quarter compared to 2019’s third quarter.
  • JBS USA Beef reported a 5 percent drop in net revenue to $5.3 billion.
  • According to Andre Nogueira, chief executive officer of JBS USA, beef exports from the U.S. to China will become extremely relevant in the fourth quarter.
  • JBS stated that beef production volumes increased in the third quarter, compared to the previous quarter, and have returned to pre-pandemic levels.


Senate bill aims to eliminate all CAFOs in 20 years

  • Over the years, the agriculture industry has witnessed the transition from small production of beef, pork, poultry and other foods to massive operations producing these commodities.
  • To address this situation, lawmakers and agricultural activists have drafted the Farm Systems Reform Act (FSRA.)
    • Democratic U.S. Senator Cory Booker originally introduced the bill in January of this year.
    • The bill targets concentrated animal feeding operations, CAFOs, and has the end goal of eliminating these large operations in the next 20 years. No CAFOs would be able to be built after Jan. 1st, 2040.
      • Definition of CAFO: animal feeding operations that include a minimum of 700 dairy cows, 1,000 beef cattle, 2,500 pigs weighing more than 55 lbs., 10,000 pigs weighing less than 55 lbs., 500 horses, 10,000 sheep or lambs, or 55,000 turkeys.
    • FSRA gained momentum through the summer as U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren co-sponsored the bill in June, and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders co-sponsored it in July.
    • According to Joe Maxwell, former lieutenant governor of Missouri who worked with Senator Booker to author FSRA, the bill plans to do two things; bust up the monopolies and it begins to give alternatives to farmers to get off the treadmill of relying on government subsidies.
    • One of the groups supporting this bill is the Union of Concerned Scientists.
      • Ricardo Salvador, the group’s director and senior scientist of the Food Safety and Environment Program, believes FSRA will distribute wealth throughout the agriculture industry.
    • Ken Herz, Nebraska Cattlemen’s Association President, said that his group opposes the bill because it would lead to higher costs for consumers and jeopardize food safety.
    • Steve Dittmer, a beef industry commentator, countered Senator Booker’s claim that CAFOs are not required to maintain a treatment facility for livestock waste.
      • Dittmer said that both state and national EPA agencies register, monitor, require extensive plans and structures to contain runoff, manage manure and fine violators.
    • Even though there are numerous organizations and groups against this bill, Maxwell still claims the goal of the bill is not to put farmers and the agricultural industry at a disadvantage. Instead, he believes it will allow large and small producers to pave their own paths with their own operations.


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $226.50 (+3.66)
  • Select boxed beef: $208.24 (-0.22)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for November 12, 2020

Court denies emergency order after southern New Mexico’s Stampede Meat sues to halt virus closure

  • On Tuesday, a federal judge denied issuing an emergency order sought by a southern New Mexico meat processing plant seeking to immediately halt a closure directive from state officials due to an outbreak of coronavirus at the facility.
  • Stampede Meat has filed a lawsuit against New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and the state’s health and environment departments over the closure order.
  • S. District Judge Martha Vazquez rejected Stampede’s request for an urgent injunction saying Stampede failed to “clearly show that immediate and irreparable injury, loss, or damage will result” while the court takes time to consider the case.
  • Earlier this month, Stampede Meats was among three businesses that state regulators said must close their doors for two weeks due to responses by state health teams to Covid-19 infections among employees.
    • According to state records, at least half-dozen employees were confirmed positive with the virus within a four-day period.
  • In the lawsuit, Stampede claims that it should not be subject to the state closure order because the federal government has designated its operations to be essential to the nation’s food supply.
  • When the pandemic first hit, Stampede had a serious outbreak of more than 50 cases amongst employees.
  • According to the company, many safety measures have been taken to limit the spread of Covid-19; its processing facilities are cleaned and sanitized daily, high-touch areas are sanitized every half hour, employees and visitors are screened and have their temperatures taken before entrance and employees are asked to wear layered protection.


China hopes to renegotiate the phase one agreement

  • According to China’s state-run media, the country is looking forward to working with the Biden administration to restore predictability and trust in U.S.-China relations.
  • The South China Morning Post reported that advisers to the Chinese government are pushing for a renegotiation of the Phase One trade agreement.
    • The advisers believe the agreement is “twisted” in favor of the U.S. and the agreement’s import targets are unrealistic and need to be lowered. Additionally, they are hoping to reduce tariffs on Chinese exports to the U.S.
  • Biden has announced that he plans to rejoin the Paris climate agreement and the World Health Organization, which may open the door to better cooperation with China.


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $222.84 (+0.59)
  • Select boxed beef: $208.46 (-0.09)

Current Cattle Markets Daily Headlines for November 10, 2020

Ranchers call for state meat inspection to boost beef industry

  • When the pandemic hit in the spring, meatpackers slowed their chain speeds or even closed for a short time due to Covid-19. As a result, small lockers were flooded with excess cattle to process. Because of this, Nebraska state senators are considering a state meat inspection program.
  • According to Senator Steve Halloran, a state inspection program would facilitate more diversity for consumers, producers, and custom exempt processors.
  • Nebraska is the second largest red meat processor in the nation and it is also a leading exporter of beef and pork to the world. State Agriculture Director, Steve Wellman said this is a major concern because to export you have to have USDA inspection in place.
    • Wellman believes it would be great to process more cattle in the state, but he is skeptical that the lack of state inspectors is the hold up. He claims there is plenty of opportunities to market directly to consumers through 100 USDA inspected plants within the state.
  • The issue with those 100 USDA inspected plants is that they are almost all located in the eastern third of the state, and according to the USDA, some don’t process beef.
  • Many lockers are only able to sell to the owner of the livestock because they are custom exempt.
  • According to Karina Jones, a rancher from Custer County, state meat inspection would definitely help our producers gain market access to everybody in Nebraska.
  • Lawmakers say the biggest hurdle to a state inspection program is cost, but they do believe hiring inspectors could be an investment that helps both consumers and ranchers.
  • Lawmakers are drafting a bill that the legislature will most likely debate in the upcoming legislative session.


JBS announces settlement in pork antitrust lawsuit

  • Last week, JBS USA settled part of a lawsuit that included distributors and food service operators accusing the meatpacker of conspiring with other meat processors to fix prices in the pork industry.
  • According to a spokesperson for JBS USA, an agreement has been reached to resolve all claims against the company regarding the direct sale of pork products.
    • Even though this agreement has been achieved, JBS denies all allegations in the lawsuit and does not admit any liability. Nevertheless, they believe the settlement is in the best interest of the company.
  • Others named in the complaint include Agri Stats, Clemens Food Group LLC, Hormel Foods Corp., Indiana Packers Corp., Seaboard Foods LLC, Smithfield Foods Inc., Triumph Foods LLC and Tyson Foods Inc.


Pork exports remain on record pace, beef exports trend lower

  • Pork exports have increased 10 percent year-over-year in September and beef exports have been fairly steady compared to last year, but overall they have trended lower according to new data released by the USDA.
  • In September, pork exports were higher to China/Honk Kong. They also set a new record for Canada and increased year-over-year to Japan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Chile and the Caribbean, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation.
  • In the first nine months of 2020, pork exports were 16 percent ahead of last year’s pace both in volume at 2.22 million metric tons and value at $5.69 billion.
  • USMEF President and CEO, Dan Halstrom stated that USMEF is pleased to see U.S. pork exports to China/Hong Kong remain strong, but it is important that our export destinations remain diversified.
    • He went on to say that the U.S. pork industry continues to pursue diversity with their export markets in both the Asia Pacific region and the Western Hemisphere region.
  • Comparatively, beef exports were down 6 percent in September compared to year-ago levels to 103,277 metric tons, valued at $600.9 billion.
  • Beef exports remained strong to South Korea and Taiwan through August, and exports to China even set a new record.
    • But Covid-19 issues had a negative impact on demand for U.S. beef in several major markets such as Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean.
  • From January through September of this year, beef exports were down 8 percent in volume at 911,939 metric tons, and 9 percent in value at $5.55 billion.
  • As 2020 comes to a close, U.S. beef exports to Asia are expected to increase on tightening supplies from Australia. Exports are also expected to see an upturn in areas where beef demand depends more heavily on travel and tourism.


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $217.39 (+3.07)
  • Select boxed beef: $202.37 (+3.88)

Current Cattle Markets Daily Headlines for November 9, 2020

The company we keep: Kessler’s ties to radical group

  • Ellen Kessler, Colorado Governor Polis’ appointee to the State Board of Veterinary Medicine has been busy flaunting her anti-agriculture viewpoint alongside other Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) activists.
    • According to Wayne Hsuing, DxE founder, the goal of the group is to destroy animal agriculture. Members have been known to break into farms, steal animals, and destroy property.
  • In a recent social media photo, Kessler is holding a sign with a picture of a piglet and another sow in a farrowing crate with the words, “No horror movie compares to life on a factory farm!”
    • Kessler posted a video of what she called a “disruption,” that showed her holding this sign in a store’s meat department.
      • The store’s management later asked Kessler and other activists to exit the store as law enforcement was en route. The group slowly left the store and reconvened outside, displaying their signs to passing traffic.
      • The following day, Kessler posted on social media that she was “bearing witness” at Superior Farms as meat goats were arriving to be processed.
    • Kay Johnson Smith, CEO of Animal Agriculture Alliance, said extremists within DxE have been known to stage “disruptions” at large grocery stores, dressed in hazardous material suits and placing yellow crime scene-type tape around the egg department in some instances.
    • Johnson stated that Kessler’s involvement with DxE is no longer just supporting legislation or supporting animal welfare. Since DxE has a history of criminal behavior in Colorado, this creates yet another example of Kessler’s conflict of interest.
      • Johnson believes that both consumers and those in agriculture should be concerned with Kessler’s involvement with DxE.
    • According to Bill Hammerich, Colorado Livestock Association’s CEO, Kessler has an obvious conflict of interest and Colorado Livestock Association believes she won’t be able to serve in a fair and unbiased manner on issues related to veterinarians who are vital to Colorado’s livestock industry.
    • Conor Cahill, Governor Polis’ press secretary said in a statement that the Governor has appointed various Coloradans to different boards and commissions based on their professional and life background, not their social media engagement or dietary habits. Governor Polis has this approach to ensure that a diversity of voices is represented.


NCBA on the election’s impact on the beef sector

  • NCBA’s Ethan Lane was featured on RFD-TV last week discussing the impact of the election on the beef industry.
  • Lane explained that NCBA is planning to spend a significant amount of time educating the new members of Congress about how the industry has gotten to where it is today and what it needs in order to continue being successful.
  • NCBA plans to continue their work with Congress to ensure American cattle producers are getting the value they deserve for their high quality cattle. The organization wants to be sure that producers are receiving a fair profit for the good work they are doing.
  • When asked about the uncertainty regarding who actually won the presidential election and how that will impact the cattle markets, Lane stated that it has been an unprecedented year for the cattle market, but consumers still need to eat and fill their freezers with beef; strong beef demand is not going away.
    • He went on to say that NCBA is making sure that market dynamics are being handled appropriately to ensure adequate price discovery. When boxed beef prices increase and we see a run of prices at the meat counter for consumers, Lane said that NCBA makes sure that that profit is being pushed all the way down the chain to cattle producers. The organization wants to be sure that we don’t see inverted prices for cattle producers like we saw earlier this year.


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $214.32 (+1.77)
  • Select boxed beef: $198.49 (-0.48)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for November 5, 2020

JBS shareholders to sue Batista brothers, former managers for damages

  • JBS shareholders have voted in favor of suing Joesley and Wesley Batista for losses incurred after the Batista brothers confessed to bribing thousands of public officials.
  • In 2017, Brazilian federal prosecutors discovered that the Batista brothers approved the sale of millions of JBS shares. This occurred just weeks before evidence was submitted that the brothers bribed nearly 2,000 Brazilian public officials.
    • The brothers sold the shares well aware that once the bribery evidence was uncovered, the company’s share price would fall.
  • The Batista brothers went on to secure a plea agreement between prosecutors concerning the bribery charges, and this resulted in a sell-off of shares on the Brazilian stock exchange. The Batistas then turned around and repurchased the shares at a significantly lower price.
  • BNDESpar, the largest minority shareholder in JBS, is seeking relief for financial damage caused to JBS by controlling shareholders and others involved in the acts that were confessed as part of the plea deal.
  • Additionally, due to the shareholder vote, JBS will also take legal action against former members of the JBS management.
  • The Batista brothers were banned from holding management positions in companies owned by J & F Investimentos, the parent company of JBS, after federal prosecutors charged them with insider trading.
    • However, this injunction was lifted when defense attorneys asked the court to dismiss the ban because the Covid-19 pandemic made the brothers’ return to management positions at J & F vital.


Heitkamp, Kolbe predict Biden victory but see problems ahead

  • Yesterday morning, former Senator Heidi Heitkamp, D-ND, and former Representative Jim Kolbe, R-AZ, were featured in a “Morning After” Zoom event sponsored by the German Marshall Fund of the United States.
    • Both predicted Biden to be elected president, but say there are many problems ahead both in the transition period and Biden presidency amongst the continuing urban-rural divide.
  • According to Kolbe, the U.S. is a very divided country, which is a worrisome situation for our friends in Europe and around the world. “I am personally discouraged and pessimistic about how we are going to go forward here,” he stated.
  • If Biden is elected president, the divisions between the Democratic-led House and the Republican-led Senate will continue to plague the presidency, said both Kolbe and Heitkamp.
    • President Trump governed by executive order, and if Biden takes office, there will be tremendous pressure from the left to use executive orders, according to Heitkamp.
  • Both Heitkamp and Kolbe believe that Biden will rejoin the Paris Climate Accord by executive order. Former President Obama joined it by executive order and did not seek Senate approval.
  • Heitkamp concluded by saying that Joe Biden can’t heal the country until we stop yelling at each other.


Record high cattle inventory in Brazil

  • So far in 2020, Brazil’s cattle inventory has increased 5.99 million hd. from 2019, up to 244.1 million hd.
    • This is the largest cattle inventory in Brazil on record.
  • Since 2000, Brazil’s cattle inventory has grown every year, up 98 million hd. since that time.
  • In 1979, Brazil’s cattle inventory exceeded 100 million hd., and in 2013, their cattle inventory exceeded 200 million hd.


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $210.19 (+0.75)
  • Select boxed beef: $197.05 (+1.60)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for November 4, 2020

Dairy Farmers of America has rolled out its Dairy+ Milk Blends combining plant-based and dairy milk to the Northeast

  • Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) has released its Dairy+ milk blends made up of lactose-free milks featuring 50:50 blends of plant-based milk and cow’s milk to the Northeast region.
  • This new milk blend has 6-8g of sugar and 5g of protein per serving. For comparison, regular milk contains 13 g of sugar and 10 g of protein.
    • According to the DFA, this new product offers the same taste and nutrition as regular dairy milk without the sugar and extra calories.
  • The new product is currently being tested in selected retailers in the Minneapolis area.
  • According to Rachel Kyllo, senior vice president of marketing innovation with DFA, consumers are interested in plant-based milk alternatives, but they aren’t satisfied with the taste or nutrition provided by the alternatives.


Scientists was tax on meat and livestock for pandemic prevention

  • According to a study released by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, lawmakers need to put a tax on livestock production and meat consumption to reduce the risk of future deadly pandemics.
  • The study explains that meat consumption increases the chance of a pandemic. It also states that recent influenza outbreaks and new pandemic strains have emerged because of the dense production of poultry and pigs in certain parts of the world.
  • The group believes these taxes are needed to protect nature. They believe that overconsumption of meat is bad for a person’s health and unsustainable for our environment.
  • Peter Daszak, a zoologist that chaired the study, said that if a change isn’t made soon, pandemics will emerge more often, spread faster, cost more, and kill more people than Covid-19.


Adams on Agriculture featuring NCBA CEO, Colin Woodall

  • Colin Woodall, NCBA CEO, was recently featured on Adams on Agriculture podcast where he covered topics ranging from domestic terrorists to negotiated trade.
  • Adams began by asking him why NCBA did not attend last week’s meetings in Florida to discuss current cattle market issues.
    • Woodall replied saying that it wasn’t just beef industry groups at the meetings, the Organization for Competitive Markets was in attendance and they are not a producer group. The OCM is funded by HSUS and almost all of their leadership has HSUS ties.
    • He went on to say that NCBA did not attend because the organization “does not negotiate with terrorists.” OCM is a domestic terrorist organization that is out to hurt cattle producers, not help them.
  • Adams then asked Woodall about NCBA’s voluntary framework to increase negotiated cash trade and the divide that NCBA is experiencing since many state affiliates have signed onto a letter supporting mandated cash trade.
    • Woodall responded saying NCBA is all about more price discovery in order to allow producers to have as much information as possible to make marketing decisions. Even though numerous state affiliates have taken a different stance on the issue, NCBA is not divided.
    • Woodall closed by saying that NCBA is working closely with the USDA to get the necessary reports that they will need to gauge whether or not the industry is meeting those robust numbers for price discovery.


Boxed beef prices;

  • Choice boxed beef: $209.44 (+0.79)
  • Select boxed beef: $195.45 (+2.83)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for November 2, 2020

Cargill names seven to their beef sustainability advisory panel

  • In January, Cargill launched its BeefUp Sustainability initiative, which has the goal of reducing greenhouse gas intensity by 30 percent across Cargill’s North American beef supply chain by 2030.
    • This reduction equates to removing 2 million cars from U.S. highways for a year.
  • This week, the company has formed an advisory panel for the BeefUp initiative made up of seven individuals throughout the scientific and beef industry.
  • Members of the advisory panel include:
    • Jason Anderson, Power Genetics
    • Marcia DeLonge, Union of Concerned Scientists
    • Erik Jacobsen, Deseret Ranches
    • Ashley McDonald, NCBA
    • Lesley Mitchell, Forum for the Future
    • Lisa Sweet, World Economic Forum
    • Bob Weaber, Kansas State University
  • The BeefUp initiative is based on four science-based practices:
    • Grazing management
    • Feed production
    • Emerging technologies to reduce emissions
    • Food waste reduction
  • The advisory panel is in place to make recommendations on cross-sector stakeholder engagement and information sharing to advance progress across the beef supply chain.
  • Ashley McDonald, senior director of sustainability for NCBA, said that as a voice for cattle producers, NCBA is excited to participate in this advisory panel to provide opportunities to help support rancher resilience.


Tyson wins some, loses some in antitrust summary judgments

  • Last week, Tyson Foods was able to reverse some details of a 2015 antitrust lawsuit with a recent summary judgment, however two key aspects in the lawsuit will move forward.
    • The lawsuit is between Tyson and broiler growers for the processor’s vertically integrated facility in Robards, KY.
  • The broiler growers sued Tyson on four claims: violation of the Packers and Stockyards Act; breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing; and fraud.
  • Tyson contended that the four claims should be dismissed in a motion for summary judgment.
    • Joseph H. McKinley Jr. of the Western District of Kentucky, Owensboro Division ruled that both the breach of the implied covenant and fraud claims were dismissed.
  • Judge McKinley denied Tyson’s summary judgment for the Packers and Stockyards Act and breach of contract. Those components of the lawsuit will continue.
  • According to Judge McKinley, there is evidence that Tyson is a monopsony in the relevant regional market and that Tyson’s actions has negatively impacted or will likely have an adverse impact on competition.


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $208.10 (+0.78)
  • Select boxed beef: $191.24 (+0.01)

Current Cattle Markets Daily Headlines for October 28, 2020

Cattle organizations working on market solutions

  • Seventeen state cattle organizations have stepped up to the plate and written the leadership of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees concerning negotiated cash trade sales.
    • The organizations are standing with legislation that would give the U.S. agriculture secretary authority to set regional minimum negotiated cash trade sales for cattle across the U.S.
  • All seventeen state organizations are affiliates of the NCBA, which is ironic because NCBA sent a letter calling for a voluntary program to achieve higher negotiated cash trade last week.
  • The seventeen state organizations include; Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
  • The state organizations are supporting Senator Fischer and Hartzler’s bills to require the USDA to set regional mandatory negotiated cash trade levels across the different regions.
    • These bills would also require meatpackers to report the number of cattle scheduled for slaughter delivery each day for the next fourteen days (this requirement already exists in the pork industry.)
    • Additionally, packers would be required to release a maintained library of marketing contracts between packers and producers to the USDA.
    • If packers fail to meat minimums on negotiated cash trade, they could face penalties up to $10,000 for each violation.
  • In the letter, the state organizations made it clear that their members are not asking for any type of market manipulation or guaranteed profit. Instead, they are asking for the information to be made available so producers can make informed and education decisions that will best benefit their operation.
  • According to Mike Deering, executive director of Missouri Cattlemen’s Association, the cattle industry cannot wait to see if the NCBA’s 75% trigger is triggered to have a plan in place. He feels there is no need to wait for a solution since Fischer and Hartzler already have legislation that fits the solution.


Tyson Foods workers to replace some federal inspectors at U.S. beef plant

  • Tyson Foods has reported that it plans to replace more than a dozen federal inspectors at their plant in Holcomb, KS in January after receiving a U.S. government waiver.
    • Other companies in the chicken and pork industries have made similar changes.
  • The company believes these changes will improve food safety and efficiency, but some activists are concerned that this may result in less oversight.
  • Tyson submitted their request for a waiver in March of 2019 and the USDA granted the waiver in March 2020.
    • The waiver will allow Tyson workers to inspect cattle carcasses for blood clots, bruises or signs of disease in place of government inspectors.
  • Tyson is now hiring 15 individuals per shift to the check carcasses.
  • The USDA will drop from seventeen to nine inspectors per shift. According to the USDA, highly trained government employees who do more complex work like monitoring animal welfare or meat testing will increase from two to seven per shift.
  • Eventually, Tyson would like to use cameras and computer imaging to evaluate carcasses.


NCBA postpones the cattle industry convention and NCBA trade show

  • The NCBA has postponed its annual convention and trade show from February 3-5, 2021, to August 10-12, 2021. The event will still be hosted at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center in Nashville, TN.
  • According to NCBA CEO, Colin Woodall, the restrictions on the number of people who can gather at an event in Nashville and the travel restriction facing trade show exhibitors due to Covid-19, made it impossible for the organization to host their annual world-class event that attendees and exhibitors expected this winter.


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $206.70 (-1.13)
  • Select boxed beef: $188.67 (+0.18)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for Tuesday October 27, 2020

Farm, business groups warn Iowa voters of threat of Green New Deal

  • The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and American Farm Bureau recently warned Iowa voters against the negative impacts of the Green New Deal.
  • According to Daniel Heady, the Iowa Farm Bureau’s national political adviser, the Green New Deal would result in massive taxation, an undermining of agricultural practices that help make farmers profitable. It would greatly impact the way agriculture producers operate.
  • Marty Durbin of the Chamber’s Global Energy Institute said that the Green New Deal will not only impact those in agriculture, but the general public. This government mandate will increase costs for household electricity, propane to heat homes, energy used in manufacturing and fuel.
    • “The Green New Deal would be taking cheap energy and making it expensive while we should be taking expensive energy and making it cheap,” said Durbin.


“NCBA’s voluntary market reform defied logic”

  • According to R-CALF’s CEO, Bill Bullard, NCBA’s proposed voluntary plan to increase negotiated cash trade and create a robust market doesn’t restore the volume of the negotiated cash market to the minimal level the group’s economist, Steven Koontz, recommends to achieve robust competition.
    • Bullard stated that the voluntary plan, titled the 75% Plan, defies logic and common sense because it sets a threshold for minimum purchases in the negotiated cash market at levels well below the average volume seen in that market over the past three years.
  • Steven Koontz’s research showed that 86,000 hd. of cattle needed to be purchased each week in a competitive cash market to achieve robust competition.
    • Nonetheless, NCBA’s 75% Plan only requires the largest beef packers to purchase 75 percent of that minimum number, which equates to 64,500 hd. of cattle during some of the weeks of the year, but not all weeks.
      • According to the USDA, the national weekly volume in both the negotiated cash market and the negotiated grid market from October 2017 through October 2020 averaged over 117,000 hd./week.
    • Bullard said these numbers show that NCBA’s plan will allow the packers to purchase far fewer cattle in the cash market than what was purchased on average during the past three years- a time when cattle producers suffered significant losses because of a lack of competition in the cattle market.


California wildfires bring on ‘Catastrophic” year for ranchers

  • California’s wildfires have spread across more than 4 million acres in the state and cattle ranchers have been among the hardest hit within the agriculture industry.
  • Fires have torn through national forests used for grazing, destroying parts of the 38 million acres of rangeland, which is more than a third of the state, managed by ranchers.
  • For ranchers who depend on Forest Service permits to graze cattle, this has been the most catastrophic year they’ve ever seen.
  • Dave Daley of Butte County lost over 85 percent of his uninsured herd in the Bear fire.
    • He continues to search everyday for survivors, but for the most part, he is picking through carcasses and euthanizing cattle too injured to survive.
    • Going forward, he anticipates the winter to be difficult with showers causing mudslides. Additionally, he isn’t sure what the future holds for his government permit due to the fires.
    • Daley blames the politics that govern national forests and inhibit public grazing, as well as prescribed burns. He refers to the forests as “tinderboxes.”


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $207.83 (+0.34)
  • Select boxed beef: $188.49 (-2.91)




Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for Monday, October 26, 2020

Impossible Foods will double research and development to eliminate animal farming

  • Impossible Foods plans to double the size of its research and development team over the next year as they work to eliminate animal farming.
    • The company feels the need to eliminate animal farming to help reverse global warming and halt what it calls the “world’s most destructive technology- the use of animals to transform plants into meat, fish and dairy foods.”
  • The company plans to expand its investment in technology and promote its Impossible Investigator program. This program is aimed at wooing scientists to help solve the problem. Currently, there are 50 openings for scientists, engineers and other research and development professionals to join Impossible Foods’ ongoing projects in Silicon Valley.
  • According to the company’s CEO, Patrick Brown, Impossible Foods is the most important scientific project in human history and the only way to save our planet from environmental catastrophe is to create a new food platform.
    • Brown believes the most destructive mammal are cattle because they are inefficient at producing food, given the grazing they do and the pollutants they give off.
  • According to Impossible Foods, the Impossible Burger uses 87 percent less water, generates about 89 percent less greenhouse gases and requires around 96 percent less land than conventional ground beef from cows.


Impossible Foods is now developing a plant-based alternative to cow’s milk

  • Impossible Foods has created a plant-based cow’s milk substitute made with stable proteins sourced from plants.
  • The company has developed this product to match the same experience that consumers have while consuming dairy products; comparable texture, flavor and mouth feel.
    • This alternative milk is not meant to replace soymilk or nut milks, it is meant to replace dairy so consumers can leave the cow behind, without having to ditch the enjoyment of consuming dairy.
  • Impossible Foods has yet to give a timeline for when this milk substitute will be released to the public, but the company is very excited for its debut, as it will finally be able to give the world a complete plant-based cheeseburger.


Live cattle imports up 3.8 percent year to date

  • The USDA has reported that the U.S. imported 1.4 million hd. of live cattle from January through August of this year. That number is 3.8 percent higher than the same period in 2019.
  • Cattle imported for immediate slaughter accounted for 25 percent of the 1.4 million hd., with the majority of those cattle coming from Canada.
    • Canadian cattle imports are up 6.7 percent due to Canada experiencing lower fed steer prices.
  • Feeder cattle imports are up 2.8 percent from January to August, accounting for 74 percent of cattle imports. The majority of feeder cattle coming out of Mexico.
    • Mexico currently has a lower-valued Mexican peso that has likely incentivized U.S. cattle feeders to import Mexican feeder animals.
  • S. beef imports continue at a vigorous pace with August seeing imports of 351 million pounds, up 32 percent compared to year-ago levels.
    • Major suppliers of imported U.S. beef are Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Mexico, making up 76 percent of August’s total beef imports.
      • New Zealand beef imports were the largest for the month of August since 2003.
      • Beef imports from Mexico have set monthly records in each of the last four months.
      • Brazilian beef imports in August were the largest since December 2008.
      • S. beef imports from Uruguay were the largest in August since September 2007.
    • According to the USDA, U.S. beef imports are projected to remain strong with a forecast of 1.025 billion pounds in the third quarter and 800 million pounds in the fourth quarter. Total beef imports for 2020 are expected to be 3.447 billion pounds and imports in 2021 are expected to be right around 3.135 billion pounds.


October cattle on feed report

  • Cattle on feed as of October 1st reported at 11.7 million head, up 4 percent from year-ago levels.
    • Analysts expected an increase of 3.2 percent.
    • This is the highest October 1st inventory since the series began in 1996.
  • Placements during the month of September totaled 2.23 million head, up 6 percent from year-ago levels.
    • Analysts only expected an increase of 2.5 percent.
  • Marketings during the month of September totaled 1.85 million head, up 6 percent from 2019.
    • Analysts expected an increase of 5.8 percent.


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $207.49 (-1.37)
  • Select boxed beef: $191.40 (+0.32)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for Friday, October 23, 2020

Presidential candidates on agricultural issues

The American Farm Bureau recently compiled our two presidential candidate’s stances’ on agriculture-related issues.

International trade:

Joe Biden-

Plans to aggressively enforce U.S. laws in an effective way when needed.

The Biden/Harris Administration will consider new approaches and tools to combat unfair trade practices jeopardizing U.S. production and jobs. They will also use this approach to gain access for American products in other markets.

Biden plans to stand with U.S. workers to protect their rights so they don’t have to face unfair trade or see their jobs offshored and production outsourced.

President Trump-

Through President Trump’s first term, he has focused on renegotiating trade deals that were weak and provided inadequate market access and import protection to U.S. farmers and ranchers.

If the Trump administration gets a second term, there will be more opportunities with China if they play by the rules and a bigger deal will be accomplished with Japan.

President Trump plans to finalize a new U.S.-U.K. trade agreement that will include significant agriculture access.

Endangered Species Act:

Joe Biden-

Plans to uphold the Endangered Species Act to ensure the protection of endangered species.

With climate change and other challenges becoming more apparent, Biden feels that there will need to be additional partnerships with federal agencies, the states and private landowners in addition to the Act.

President Trump

The Trump Administration is committed to science-based conservation with common-sense policy designed to bring the Endangered Species Act into the 21st Century, all while allowing farmers and ranchers the freedom to be as productive as possible on their land.

According to President Trump, a Biden/Harris Administration will try to achieve a regulatory policy comparable to California where they value fish and birds over famers and business.

Climate Change:

Joe Biden-

According to Biden, the U.S. needs to fight climate change, and he plans to create new opportunities and new sorts of revenues for farmers and ranchers as they help with that fight.

Biden believes the government needs to partner with those in agriculture to accelerate the progress toward net-zero emissions.

He wants to see our agriculture sector be the first in the world to achieve net-zero emissions.

A Biden/Harris Administration will invest in research to refine practices to build soil carbon while maximizing farm and ranch profitability. The duo plans to create incentive-based partnerships between farmers and the federal government to further sustainable practices and help the climate.

President Trump-

President Trump believes that American farmers are the most sustainable in the world and we should be thanking them rather than thinking of new ways to regulate them.

Any new sustainability or climate requirements must be science based and not result in tighter profit margins for farmers and ranchers.

The Trump/Pence Administration has been a strong supporter of increased funding of voluntary conservation programs included in the 2018 Farm Bill.

According to Trump, the Biden/Harris Administration will be heavily influenced by environmental activists working to implement the Green New Deal.


There is now a nationwide push to phase out gas-powered cars

  • This week the Democratic Party introduced the Zero Emission Vehicles Act. A similar piece of legislation was introduced in California last month.
  • The Zero Emission Vehicles Act has the goal of phasing out new gas-powered cars by 2035.
    • The Act would require battery and fuel cell vehicles to account for 50 percent of new sales by 2025 and zero emissions by 2035 nationwide.
  • Corn and soybean farmers have come forward expressing concern that this bill will kill ethanol demand and likely cause major issues for farm vehicles.


Just can’t catch

  • Just two weeks ago we saw cash cattle prices reach their highest point since the week of June 5th, but this week we’ve seen the cattle market take a steep dive.
  • Since the basis has flipped, there is quite a rush to get cattle sold lower and when the market will finally find a bottom is anyone’s guess.
  • As of Wednesday, 81,000 hd. of cattle sold $2-$4 lower than last week.
    • Many thought we would see cash cattle prices somewhere around $115 to $118 in the fourth quarter. Bearish speculators even thought we would get to $112, but those thoughts have vanished along with hope for a strong fourth quarter.


Boxed beef prices;

  • Choice boxed beef: $208.86 (+0.39)
  • Select boxed beef: $191.08 (+0.17)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for Thursday, October 22, 2020

Judge denies motion to dismiss turkey price-fixing case

  • Judge Virginia M. Kendall has denied a motion to dismiss a price-fixing case against turkey producers in the Northern District of Illinois.
  • Olean Wholesale Grocery Cooperative and John Gross and Co. filed the lawsuit claiming that Butterball, Cargill, Tyson Fresh Meats, Perdue Foods, Kraft foods and other companies shared “competitively sensitive information” to increase the price of turkeys above normal market standards.
    • Agri Stats Inc. is also a defendant in the case as the plaintiffs allege the company was used to exchange information between the defendants.
  • All the defendants besides Kraft, who filed a separate motion, filed a motion to dismiss the case claiming that the plaintiffs failed to:
    • Allege any agreement among the Turkey Defendants to exchange information.
    • To allege any anti-competitive effects stemming from the alleged information exchange.
    • To allege a properly defined market.
  • Judge Kendall denied the motion stating that the plaintiff’s accusations of information exchange were acceptable and the allegations regarding anti-competitive activity met the initial burden of the court.
    • Judge Kendal did grant Kraft’s separate dismissal motion. The motion argued that Kraft is a turkey purchaser instead of producer and the price manipulations alleged by the plaintiffs would actually end up hurting their bottom line.
  • Over the last week, in separate filings in U.S. District Court in Northern Illinois, The Golden Corral, White Castle and Cracker Barrel Old Country Store have filed antitrust complaints against numerous chicken processors, claiming the processors conspired to restrict production, raise prices and rig bids.
  • Golden Corral’s suit names Pilgrim’s Pride, Claxton Poultry Farms and Georges Inc. as defendants.
  • The Cracker Barrel and White Castle have named Tyson Foods, Pilgrim’s Pride, Koch Foods, Sanderson Farms, House of Raeford Farms, Wayne Farms, MAR-JAC Poultry and several other processors in their complaint.


Lions and tigers and new limits, oh my (ShayLe Stewart, DTN Livestock Analyst)!

  • In August, the CME reported that it would be increasing cattle contract’s daily limits from $3.00 to $4.00/cwt. in the live cattle market. The feeder market would be seeing an increase from $4.50 to $5.00/cwt. Expanded limits for live cattle would go from $4.50 to $6.00 and $6.75 to $7.50 for feeder cattle.
  • As the cattle markets took a dive on Monday, these new limits were experienced for the first time when the November feeder cattle contract closed $4.95 lower.
  • Last week, steer and heifer calves were reported at steady to $3.00 lower as many producers shipped their calves to sale barns.
  • Even though the feeder cattle market and live cattle market trade independently, bearish factors in the live cattle market flooded over into to the feeder cattle market.
  • The current outlooks for feeders and cow-calf producers seems a bit dim considering higher corn prices, lower boxed beef prices and a weaker cash cattle market.
  • The futures market is in place to moderate risk, act as a protection tool and forecast prices at a future date. The CME’s massive limits cause the market to be extremely volatile on a regular day basis, not taking into consideration current fundamentals. This situation leaves our markets vulnerable to daily day-trading mayhem.


Drought center climatologist says lingering dry pattern is a concern

  • According to Brian Fuchs, a climatologist with the National Drought Mitigation Center, extremely dry conditions, specifically in the High Plains and western Corn Belt, are a major concern heading into winter.
    • Fuchs says current forecasts are projecting the dry pattern could continue into 2021.
  • If we don’t have banked moisture in the ground heading into the 2021 production year, many areas will be starting off on the wrong foot, a situation that concerns Fuchs.
  • An important thing to watch will be where the winter storm track sets up starting in late November and early December. As we head into winter, specifically in the western Corn Belt, it’ll be important to pay attention to what the conditions are, because most likely those conditions will carry into the spring.
  • Here in Nebraska, for the first time since July 2013, 100 percent of the state is listed in drought conditions. Eleven percent of the state is listed in extreme drought.


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $208.47 (-2.13)
  • Select boxed beef: $190.91 (-0.76)


Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Federal judge won’t dismiss pork price-fixing suit

  • Judge John R. Tunheim of the U.S. District Court of Minnesota has denied a request by pork processors to dismiss a lawsuit accusing them of fixing prices.
    • Judge Tunheim ruled that amended complaints by the plaintiffs “adequately pleaded a continuing violation” of price manipulation. These amended complaints were enough for Judge Tunheim to deny the defendants request for dismissal.
  • The defendants include: Agri Stats, Celemens, Hormel, JBS USA, Seaboard, Smithfield Foods, Triumph and Tyson Foods in a consolidation of three class-action filings alleging illegal price fixing of pork since at least 2009.
  • The plaintiff’s first complaint was dismissed without prejudice in August 2019. They then filed a second amended complaint last year.
  • When the pandemic hit, the plaintiffs argued that President Trump’s executive order to keep meat plants open supported their claim that small changes in production output often result in a severe disruption of protein supplies throughout the market.


Trump’s payments to farmers hit all-time high ahead of election

  • Government subsidies are expected to make up more than a third of farm income this year. Those aid programs may be key to President Trump’s success in swing states such as Wisconsin, Ohio, Iowa and Minnesota.
    • In 2016, farmers overwhelming voted for President Trump.
  • Since Trump took office, government payments ranging from crop insurance payments to new programs compensating farmers for lost sales during the U.S.-China trade war have risen every year.
  • In 2018, farmers pleaded with Trump for “trade not aid,” but have since received repeated bailouts while millions of other Americans continue to wait for their Covid-19 stimulus that has stalled out in Congress.
  • Just this year, federal payments are expected to reach a record $51.2 billion. The government will make up 39.7 percent of farmers’ net cash income this year, the largest percentage seen in 20 years.
  • According to the Environmental Working Group, a health and environmental advocacy group, the Covid-19 relief program put together for farmers and ranchers was “old-fashioned vote buying.” The group claims the relief funds were not sent to groups truly at risk.
    • But according to Secretary Sonny Perdue, the USDA talked to farmers and ranchers when designing the relief program to best accommodate their losses.


Representative Hartzler introduces Cattle Market Transparency Act

  • Last week, Representative Vicky Hartzler (R., Mo.) introduced the Cattle Market Transparency Act of 2020; a bill that will serve as a companion bill to Senator Fischer’s (R., NE) bill that she recently introduced to improve price discovery and transparency within the cattle market.
  • This legislation includes the same details as Fischer’s bill:
    • Directs the USDA to create and maintain a library of marketing contracts between packers and producers.
    • Mandates that a packer report the number of cattle scheduled to be delivered for slaughter each day for the next 14 days.
    • Bolsters the public availability of data collected through the Livestock Mandatory Price Reporting Act.
    • Requires the Secretary of Agriculture to establish regionally sufficient levels of negotiated cash trade and to consider stakeholder input through a public comment period.
  • According to Missouri Cattlemen’s Association President, Marvin Dieckman, Hartzler’s legislation will work to achieve robust price discovery and market transparency through a methodical approach, rather than a one-size fits all, heavy handed approach.


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $210.60 (+0.86)
  • Select boxed beef: $191.67 (-0.17)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Interview: Agriculture Secretary Perdue gives industry high marks for Covid response

  • Recently, Secretary Perdue sat down with Meatingplace to discuss improvements that are needed within the processing sector, along with a few lessons that have been learned throughout the pandemic.
  • When the pandemic first hit, Perdue was most worried about restaurant shutdowns and the closing of our economy, both of which caused major disruptions in our food supply chain.
  • Perdue believes that the meat processing industry will be seeing more mechanization within plants as they continue to adopt more CDC and OSHA standards. This will clearly hurt employment, but will be more predictable in situations such as a pandemic.
    • The pandemic has caused plants to lose efficiency and is costing them more to operate at today’s kill levels. This combined with consumers wanting low-priced protein will cause plants to operate at the most efficient levels possible.
  • According to Perdue, the USDA was concerned about the price divergence that occurred after the Tyson plant fire in Holcomb, KS in the fall of 2019 and when the pandemic hit earlier this year. As to why this price divergence occurred, Perdue has no idea.
    • Packer concentration may be a factor, but so far, there is no smoking-gun conspiracy of price manipulation contrary to what cattle producers would love to have evidence of.
  • Perdue and the USDA are open to the many legislative proposals that have come forward to help facilitate growth of small, local processors; one of those ideas being able to sell out of state without being USDA certified. Perdue claims this is a risky proposal because food safety is a zero-tolerance business and the USDA stamp is needed to ensure this.
    • Food safety is more difficult to ensure in smaller facilities because they can’t afford the overtime that’s required to support food safety inspection.
  • Overall, Perdue is most proud of the USDA making sure they had food safety inspectors all throughout the pandemic in processing plants. He feels that the USDA corrected the food supply chain in a timely fashion and avoided additional panic in grocery stores because of the agency’s efforts.


NCBA releases report on price discovery recommendations

  • Price discovery has always been a top priority for NCBA and at their 2020 Summer Business Meeting, a subgroup of seven producer leaders was appointed to construct a voluntary framework focused on this topic.
    • This framework includes triggers based on regional levels of negotiated trade, to increase frequent, transparent, and measured negotiated trade to regionally sufficient levels to achieve robust price discovery determined by NCBA funded and directed research in all major cattle feeding regions.
      • If this voluntary approach doesn’t work, NCBA will pursue a legislative or regulatory solution determined by its membership.
    • A deadline of October 1st was set for this plan to be formulated.
    • After months of meetings, the subgroup has delivered its framework focused on price discovery called “A Voluntary Framework to Achieve Price Discovery in the Fed Cattle Market.”
      • This plan is meant to increase negotiated trade and incentivize major packers’ to increase their negotiated trade participation.
      • The framework is based around a “75% Plan,” which is designed to provide negotiated trade and packer participation benchmarks for the industry to strive toward.
    • To avoid tripping triggers, in any given quarter, each region must:
      • Achieve no less than 75 percent of the weekly negotiated trade volume that current academic literature indicates is necessary for robust price discovery in that specific region,
        • Achieve this negotiated trade threshold no less than 75 percent of the reporting weeks in a quarter.
      • Achieve no less than 75 percent of the weekly packer participation requirements, to be determined in short order, and assigned to each specific region.
        • Achieve this packer participation threshold no less than 75 percent of the reporting weeks in a quarter.
      • If any triggers are tripped in any two out of four rolling quarters, the subgroup will advise NCBA to pursue a legislative or regulatory solution to work towards robust price discovery.
    • Marty Smith, NCBA President, said that he is confident that the cattle industry will meet this challenge as it always does; head-on and at full steam. Together we can ensure price transparency and robust price discovery in our markets.


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $209.74 (-0.29)
  • Select boxed beef: $191.84 (-1.68)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for Monday, October 19, 2020

Cattle market’s bottom is in, Nalivka says

  • According to Sterling Marketing president John Nalivka, 2020 will be the low for calf prices and cow-calf profitability as he expects better days in the future.
  • Cow calf producers saw respectable profits in 2014 and 2015, but when we compare 2020 to those years, cow calf profits are down 80 percent.
  • Nalivka feels that the next two to three years look to be fairly profitable for cow calf producers and feedyards will most likely also see improved profitability.
    • Going into the early months of 2021, Nalivka expects cash fed cattle to trade somewhere around $118/cwt. to the upper $120’s. He figures breakevens will range from $112/cwt. to $116/cwt.
  • Covid-19 caused obvious disruptions in the cattle industry, but Nalivka believes we are finally getting past the backlog of cattle that was created last spring when packers had issues getting cattle processed.
    • The packing industry’s response to the pandemic was phenomenal as they spent billions of dollars to address Covid-19, he said.
  • Nalivka concluded by stating that it is important to remember that most packers are producing value-added products, and with the increase in quality of fed cattle they are receiving, they will of course have better margins. The entire industry has moved ahead with better quality to address what the consumer wants.


Federal appeals court props up California’s animal cruelty law

  • Last week, a panel of judges in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a federal district court’s ruling that meat producers selling their products in California must comply with the state’s animal cruelty law.
  • In 2012, California’s voters approved Proposition 12, the Prevention of Cruelty to Farm Animals Act.
    • This law restricts the sale of meat and eggs from producers who don’t meet the standards of providing 43 square feet of floor space for calves, 24 square feet for pigs and more than 1 foot for hens.
  • Last year, the North American Meat Institute (NAMI) sued claiming that Prop 12 violated the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution by creating a trade barrier. NAMI also argued that a California law shouldn’t affect meat producers outside of the state.
    • Regardless, U.S. District Judge Christina Snyder rejected NAMI’s request for an injunction.
      • The Ninth Circuit panel sided with Judge Snyder claiming that the proposition “does not have a discriminatory purpose given the lack of evidence that the state had a protectionist intent.”
    • NAMI is currently reviewing their options before moving forward to fight the law.
    • The National Pork Producers Council and the American Farm Bureau Federation also sued California over Prop 12, but the suit was dismissed in April.


Farmer speaks out following harvest equipment fire in Clay County, NE

  • Early on Thursday morning as Jonathan Rempel was getting his two children ready for school, he received a call from the Sutton Volunteer Fire Department who informed him that all of his harvest equipment was on fire.
    • According to the Nebraska State Fire Marshal’s office, the fire destroyed a combine, two trucks and trailers filled with grain, a tractor and a grain cart.
  • The fire occurred in rural Clay County, NE, about two miles off the highway.
  • Since the fire, photos of the harvest equipment have gone viral on social media with the suggestion that the fire was politically driven and arson.
    • Rempel did have two flags in support of President Donald Trump on his combine.
  • In a statement made on Facebook by Rempel, he said that his harvest equipment was parked at a safe distance from each other. The enormous loss is devastating, but he and his family are incredibly blessed to live in rural America, as the outpouring of support has been colossal.
  • An investigation is currently being conducted by the Fire Marshal’s office.


Beef exports and sales

  • Net sales of 13,400 metric tons reported for 2020 were down 35 percent from the previous week and 31 percent from the prior four-week average.
  • Exports of 16,200 metric tons were down 5 percent from the previous week and 1 percent from the prior 4-week average.


Boxed beef price

  • Choice boxed beef: $210.03 (-0.45)
  • Select boxed beef: $193.52 (-2.98)


Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for Friday, October 16, 2020

Pilgrim’s Pride plans $75 million expansion in Cold Spring, MN.

  • Pilgrim’s Pride has announced that it is making a $75 million expansion to its production facility located in Cold Spring, MN. Construction will be complete in early 2021 and the expansion will create 130 new jobs.
    • Fifty thousand additional square feet will be added to the facility to increase daily production of premium chicken products. Part of the expansion will include a new cafeteria, more break room, lunchroom and bathroom space and increased locker room capacity.
  • Stearns County, the city of Cold Spring and the Cold Spring School District have approved a 10-year tax abatement to support the expansion, according to Pilgrim’s.


Wall Street applauds Pilgrim’s price-fixing deal

  • On Wednesday, after Pilgrim’s Pride agreed to pay a fine of $110.5 million in a plea deal with the U.S. Department of Justice to settle price fixing allegations, the company’s stocks jumped at much as 7 percent.
  • According to Stephens Inc. analyst Ben Bienvenu, this plea agreement puts the controversy in the company’s rear-view mirror. Bienvenu said that even though the DOJ investigation related to individuals is still ongoing, this agreement mitigates the risk of more significant damages to Pilgrim’s and helps remove an overhand on the stock related to this matter.
  • Investors are now able to refocus on challenging fundamentals in the poultry market.


Green Plains exits cattle feeding business

  • Omaha-based Green Plains Inc. has sold the remaining 50 percent of their interest in Green Plains Cattle Co. LLC, for $80 million to a group of investment funds that include AGR Partners and StepStone Group.
  • Green Plains entered the cattle feeding industry in June 2014 after they purchased Supreme Cattle Feeders, a 70,000–head feedlot located in Kismet, KS.
    • Since the purchase of this feedlot, Green Plains Cattle Co. grew to the fourth largest cattle feeder in the U.S. with a total capacity of more than 335,000 head of cattle across six feedlots in Texas, Colorado, and Kansas.
  • In September 2019, Green Plains sold 50 percent of Green Plains Cattle Co. for $77 million in a joint venture.’
  • Now that Green Plains has sold off all of Green Plains Cattle Co., the business plans to focus on becoming a world-class provider of high value ingredients. This transition will include the unveiling of the company’s high protein technology as a natural line extension to their platform.


Consumers are buying less meat to save money

  • According to a new survey conducted by C+R Research, U.S. consumers are cutting back on meat and poultry purchases at the grocery store due to increased prices.
  • The survey polled 2,000 consumers. Of those 2,000 respondents, 88 percent are worried about grocery prices continuing to climb, 85 percent are worried that grocery shortages will return and 65 percent have cut back on their food budgets since the pandemic hit in the spring.
  • To combat the worries and save money, 43 percent of the respondents are cutting back on meat, 33 percent are eating less poultry, and 31 percent are avoiding organic items.
  • As a possibility of a new coronavirus wave looms in the future, 87 percent of the respondents are concerned that a second wave will cause grocery shortages and 86 percent are worried that this situation will lead to even higher food prices.
  • Long term, 77 percent of survey respondents believe that their grocery shopping habits will change permanently due to Covid-19 and 75 percent feel uncomfortable shopping at a grocery store. Almost 70 percent of the respondents have turned to grocery delivery or pick-up due to virus concerns.


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $210.48 (-0.66)
  • Select boxed beef: $196.50 (-2.77)


Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for Thursday, October 15, 2020

Pilgrim’s Pride reaches plea deal with justice department on chicken price-fixing allegations

  • Pilgrim’s Pride, the second-largest U.S. chicken processor by sales, has agreed to a plea deal with the U.S. Justice Department to resolve price-fixing charges. The company will pay a fine of $110.5 million.
    • Pilgrim’s is owned primarily by Brazilian meat giant JBS and has been at the center of the U.S. government’s wide-ranging probe of the $65 billion U.S. chicken industry.
  • Prosecutors have accused the company of coordinating with other parties to suppress competition in the chicken market from 2012 to early 2019.
  • This guilty plea makes Pilgrim’s the first company to actually admit in court to what prosecutors have alleged was approximately a seven-year effort to inflate prices across the majority of the U.S. chicken industry.
  • The plea agreement states that the Justice Department will bring no more charges against Pilgrim’s, and doesn’t recommend an outside compliance monitor. Furthermore, the agreement doesn’t require any restitution or a probationary period, according to the company.
    • The agreement is subject to the approval of the U.S. District Court of Colorado.
  • Tyson Foods Inc., Perdue Farms Inc., Koch Foods Inc. and Claxton Poultry Farms have also had current and former employees charged. The DOJ claims a warm relationship between C-suite executives and midlevel sales officials across the industry, which has led to price manipulation.
    • Tyson, the largest U.S. chicken company by sales, has been cooperating with the government’s investigation under a corporate leniency program.
  • Pilgrim’s has been cooperating with Justice Department lawyers, according to individuals associated with the investigation. The company provided information to investigators that helped the government expand its case, and as a result, Pilgrim’s is receiving a smaller fine for their cooperation.
  • The company plans to record this fine as a miscellaneous expense in its financial statements in the third quarter of 2020.
  • In 2019, Pilgrim’s earned $456 million in profits on $11.4 billion in sales.


Owners of meatpacker JBS to pay $280 million fine over foreign bribery charges

  • J&F Investimentos, the Brazilian parent company of meatpacking conglomerate JBS SA ran by Brazilian nationals Joesley Batista and Wesley Batista, have agreed to pay more than $280 million in fines to the Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to settle charges it violated federal anti-corruption laws.
  • On Wednesday, J&F agreed to pay a $256 million fine to the Justice Department over charges it violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) by using funds acquired through a bribery scheme to expand its U.S. operations.
    • Federal prosecutors alleged that JBS carried out bribes and other activities by using U.S.-based bank accounts, shell companies and a $1.5 million Manhattan apartment in an enormous bribery scheme involving funding from Brazilian banks.
  • In 2019, the Batistas admitted to spending approximately $150 million to bribe more than 1,800 Brazilian government officials to secure $1.3 billion in loans from the Brazilian Development Bank and federal pension funds.
  • According to Assistant Attorney General Brian Rabbitt, executives at the very highest levels of JBS used U.S. banks and real estate to pay tens of millions of dollars in bribes to corrupt Brazilian government officials in order to obtain hundreds of millions of dollars in financing for the company and its affiliates.
  • The SEC also fined J&F and the Batistas $27 million to settle charges it used the illegally obtained money to finance the purchase of poultry producer Pilgrim’s Pride in 2009.
  • Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have questioned the Trump administration for giving JBS at least $90 million in aid that was intended to help U.S. farmers struggling due to the president’s trade war with China.
    • JBS claims that money went to farmers who sold their animals directly to the company for processing and distribution.
  • The Occupational Health and Safety Administration has also joined the party and fined JBS $15,000 for failing to take proper coronavirus precautions after six employees died and more than 300 tested positive for Covid-19 at its Greeley, CO plant.


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $211.14 (-1.30)
  • Select boxed beef: $199.27 (-0.81)



Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for Thursday October 8, 2020

Tyson targeted in new suit alleging lax plant measures during pandemic

  • Tyson Foods Inc. has again found itself in another lawsuit. The family of a worker at a plant in Columbus Junction, Iowa who died in April because of Covid-19 is now alleging that Tyson failed to protect their employees.
  • Pedro Cano’s family claims that Tyson did not provide adequate guidance regarding the threat of Covid-19 as workers continued to work elbow to elbow throughout the pandemic.
  • According to the lawsuit, no distancing measures, appropriate screening, cleaning, sanitizing or disinfecting practices were implemented at the plant while workers continued to test positive for the virus.
    • The plant did eventually close after 522 workers tested positive in early May.
  • The plaintiffs are asking for a jury trial and compensation for their losses and appropriate, unspecified damages.
  • According to a Tyson spokesman, the company has implemented numerous safety measures that meet or exceed federal guidelines for preventing the spread of coronavirus.


U.S. government indict six more chicken executives over alleged price fixing

  • The U.S. government has indicted six more chicken industry executives over alleged price fixing. This indictment expands antitrust prosecutions in the $65 billion poultry sector.
  • Among the six is former Pilgrim’s Pride CEO William Lovette. This comes months after the DOJ indicted Pilgrim’s Pride Chief Executive Jayson Penn and three others in its first charges in the criminal probe involving broiler chickens.
  • Court documents show that the industry executives conspired to fix chicken prices from 2012 through 2019.
  • Sales executive at Perdue Farms, Timothy Mulrenin was also indicted earlier this week.
  • These indictments come after grocers, retailers and consumers filed a lawsuit accusing Pilgrim’s Pride, Tyson and other poultry processors of conspiring to inflate prices for broiler chickens. All companies have denied these allegations.
    • However, Tyson Foods has been cooperating with the DOJ in its investigation into price fixing of broiler chickens as a part of an application for corporate leniency.


New plant-based burger line competes with traditional beef

  • Before the Butcher is releasing a new line of plant-based burgers that will compete with beef on taste and price.
  • The new line of quarter-pound patties will be named “Mainstream” and will sell in packages of eight at $10.99, which equates to $5.50/lb., according to a report from Super Market Perimeter.
    • This low price puts the Mainstream patties below the price point of Beyond Meat and Impossible, and right alongside traditional beef.
  • The 100 percent plant-based patty contains 18 grams of plant-based protein, are expected to hit grocery stores by the end of the year.
    • Ingredients include soy flour, isolated soy protein, both beet juice and beet juice powder and various other ingredients.


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $216.88 (+0.64)
  • Select boxed beef: $205.58 (-1.26)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for Wednesday, October 7, 2020

USDA chief blurs public duties and politics

  • Lawmakers and ethnic watchdogs are accusing USDA’s Secretary Sonny Perdue of blurring public duties and politics.
  • At a USDA event with North Carolina food producers in August, Perdue supposedly held a pep rally for his boss, President Trump. His comments during this event led to chants of, “four more year, for more years.”
    • After the event, 49 democrats wrote a letter to the Agriculture Department’s ethics office stating that Perdue’s remarks were a “blatant violation of federal law.”
  • More fuel was added to the fire when the USDA recently required that federal contractors include letters signed by President Trump in food boxes for needy families.
  • Just last week, democrats were again angry over Perdue advocating for Trump while touring a dairy farm in Wisconsin. During the tour Perdue made the statement that the president is the common denominator between Washington and rural America.


USCA comments on transition to RFID tags

  • On Monday, USCA submitted comments regarding the USDA’s push to transition to RFID tags as the official eartag for use in interstate movement of cattle that are required to be identified by traceability regulations.
  • In the submitted comments, USCA President Dr. Brooke Miller said that he and his organization believe the USDA can work with the cattle industry to establish an animal identification system that works for all producers.
    • He also stated that RFID tags are needed with the growing global marketplace and our trading partners wanting a more comprehensive and transparent national animal id system.


China’s import and export markets

  • The USDA recently released a Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) International Agricultural Trade Report that details China as the world’s largest agricultural import market and their increasing demand.
  • The report states that Chinese beef and beef product imports have grown exponentially since 2012, with an annual upward trend of 48 percent. In 2019, this trend propelled China to surpass the U.S. to become the largest beef market with imports at $8.4 billion.
    • The three main beef suppliers to China are Brazil, Australia and Argentina, accounting for a combined 67 percent of the market share.
    • The report noted that Brazil has been shipping record value of beef to China.
  • China opened its borders to U.S. beef imports in 2017 after they had been closed due to BSE. Since then, U.S. beef exports have grown, but still remain marginal in the big picture.
  • Just this year, China’s pork imports have tripled, mainly due to ASF decimating their pork industry.
  • In 2019, China was noted as the world’s largest pork market with imports of $6.4 billion.
  • In closing, the report stated that China expects to add 189 million middle-class households in the coming decade, which will mean increased demand for meat, dairy, and other food products.
    • As positive as this sounds for U.S. agriculture producers, our trade has been and will most likely continue to be challenged by our strongest competitor, Brazil.
      • Brazil has a more favorable exchange rate that helps make their products more competitive in the Chinese market.


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $216.24 (-0.74)
  • Select boxed beef: 206.84 (-1.17)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for Tuesday, October 6, 2020

CME Group launching pork cutout futures, options

  • On September 29th, CME Group announced that it would launch pork cutout futures and options on November 9th, 2020, pending all relevant regulatory review periods.
  • According to Tim Andriesen, CME Group managing director of agriculture products, CME customers are looking for new tools to help manage price risk associated with hog and pork production. He went on to say that pork cutout futures would provide clients with the ability to manage risk and discover price from the hog all the way to the meat case.
  • More and more, hogs are bought and sold in the physical market based on a formula that uses the cutout.
    • The cutout is calculated using the prices paid for wholesale cuts of pork.
      • The values used to calculate the pork cutout include the loin, butt, picnic, rib, ham and belly.
    • Pork cutout futures and options will be financially settled to the CME Pork Cutout Index.
    • The new contracts will reflect the price of the wholesale product after processing, they will be quoted in U.S. cents per pound, will have a contract size of 40,000 lb., will be available for trading on CME Globex or through block trades via CME ClearPort and will be listed by and subject to CME rules and regulations.


Culver’s goes its own way, launches veggie burger with cheese

  • Culver’s recently released a Harvest Veggie Burger that differs from other vegetarian options sold by competitors.
  • The Harvest Veggie Burger took four years to develop and consists of grains, roasted corn, portobello mushrooms, bell peppers, spinach and chickpeas. The burger does include Wisconsin cheeses, so it cannot be truly designated as vegan.
  • The sandwich can be found at any of Culver’s 760 locations across 25 U.S. states.


Deboning robots closer to commercial use

  • Labor issues within the meat-processing sector have been constant for years.
    • That issue was made worse this year as Covid-19 spread, resulting in a high degree of subsequent absenteeism.
  • Georgia Tech Research Institute recently performed intricate deboning tasks on chickens with a new robotic system that has been in the making for several years.
  • This automated deboning machine runs at 75 percent speed, processing approximately 15 chickens a minute.
    • This speed is slower than a manual deboning process, however it would solve labor issues within packing plants.
  • The new robotic machine differs from earlier versions with its ability to use machine vision and artificial intelligence to address each carcass individually, improving yields.


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $216.98 (-1.90)
  • Select boxed beef: $208.01 (+0.40)


Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for Monday, October 5, 2020

Johnson introduces sweeping cattle reform bill

Read our Interview with Dusty Johnson here.

  • Last week, U.S. representative Dusty Johnson (R-SD) introduced the PRICE Act, a bill that will increase transparency in the cattle market, improve risk management and support new and expanding meat processors.
    • Earlier this year, the USDA released the “Box Beef and Fed Cattle Price Spread Investigation Report” that outlined numerous issues within the cattle markets. The PRICE Act was introduced in response to that report.
  • The PRICE Act offers greater price reporting and transparency, comprehensive risk management solutions, it supports small processor and producer-owned cooperative processing opportunities and updates the Packers and Stockyards Act to create a cattle contract library.
  • Representative Johnson stated that this bill is needed because cattle country is hurting. Cattle producers want a fair market and fair prices, and this legislation will do just that.


Agriculture economists’ weigh in on cattle price discovery legislation

  • The cattle industry has seen multiple bills introduced in Congress over the past few months in hopes of improving price discovery in cattle.
  • According to agriculture economist John Anderson with the University of Arkansas, the industry needs to ask itself if it is really being hurt by the decline in cash trade while formula pricing becomes more dominant.
  • Anderson feels there could be unintended consequences with a legislative mandate pertaining to negotiated cash trade. The industry must tread lightly and consider how these decisions might affect incentives for pricing innovation.
  • According to University of Missouri’s livestock economist Scott Brown, increasing the volume of cash trade won’t necessarily mean better price discovery. He stated that it doesn’t take very many transactions to get adequate price discovery, but it’s worth a lot of discussion for the cattle industry, generally, to have this.


Cargill, Ahold Delhaize partner on second beef plant

  • Cargill recently finalized a contract to manage another case-ready beef plant owned by retail giant Ahold Delhaize located in Camp Hill, PA.
  • This move by Cargill further establishes their presence not only in Pennsylvania, but also in the Northeast region.
  • A spokesman for Cargill said the company is excited to bring more stability and resiliency to the food supply system with this agreement.
  • Cargill is planning to fill about 200 positions at this plant that produces up to 2 million pounds of beef and pork products per week.


Boxed beef prices, estimated weekly slaughter (last week), live cattle weights and beef production

  • Choice boxed beef: $218.88 (-0.10)
  • Select boxed beef: 207.61 (-0.01)
  • Cattle slaughter last week:
    • 665,000 hd., up 2.2 percent from the previous week and up 3.1 percent from last year.
  • Live cattle weights last week:
    • 1,379 lbs., up 3 lbs. from the previous week, up 21 lbs. from last year.
  • Beef production last week:
    • 1 million pounds, up 2.1 percent from the previous week, up 5.7 percent from last year.

Current Cattle Markets Daily Headlines for Friday, October 2, 2020

Meatpackers deny workers benefits for Covid-19 deaths

  • Six workers have died from Covid-19 at JBS USA’s slaughterhouse in Greeley, CO. The Greeley plant was one of the earliest and deadliest coronavirus outbreaks in packing plants across the U.S.
  • One of those workers who died was 78-year-old Saul Sanchez. His family claims that before Sanchez fell ill, he only left home to work on the fabrication line at the packing plant and to attend weekly church services.
  • Sanchez’s family filed for workers’ compensation benefits but they were denied by JBS, along with those filed by the families of two other Greeley workers who died of Covid-19, according to lawyers handling the claims.
  • JBS denied the family’s claims because they believe the employees’ Covid-19 deaths were not work-related.
  • In Minnesota, where JBS had a major Covid-19 outbreak, 930 workers’ compensation claims were filed as of September 11th. According to the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry, none of those claims were accepted; 717 were rejected and 213 are still under review
  • According to Utah’s Labor Commission, seven JBS workers in the state filed claims related to Covid-19 as of August 1st, and all were denied
  • In Colorado, 69 percent of 2,294 worker compensation claims for Covid-19 had been denied as of September 12th.
  • Ben Roth, a workers’ compensation attorney, said meat-processing companies have motivation to deny every claim because admitting they caused just one infection can expose the firms to liability for all workers contracting Covid-19.


Germany finds two more African swine fever cases in wild boar

  • Germany’s federal agriculture ministry announced on Thursday that two more cases of African swine fever (ASF) have been confirmed in wild boars in the eastern German state of Bradenburg.
  • The total number of confirmed ASF cases in Germany has now reached 40 since the first case was discovered on September 10th.
    • All of these cases have been found in wild boars, no farms pigs have yet to be affected.
  • China, along with other buyers’ halted German pork imports after the first case was discovered.
  • Further examination of the remains of the first wild boar show that the animal most likely died from the disease eight to ten weeks ago, proving that ASF has been in Germany since early July.
  • German pig pries fell sharply after the first case of ASF was discovered, but have remain unchanged on hopes that Spain, the Netherlands, Denmark and other EU countries will increase pork sales to China and other Asian regions to compensate for lost German supply, opening up market demand inside the EU that Germany would be able to meet.


Beyond Meat triples distribution of plant-based burgers at Wal-Mart stores

  • As of next week, Beyond Meat’s plant-based burgers will be available in more than 2,400 Wal-Mart stores. This expansion will triple the amount of stores that carry Beyond Meat’s products.
  • Since the company launched its products in Wal-Mart stores back in 2015, they now carry the Beyond Burger, Beyond Sausage and Beyond Breakfast patties.
    • All these products are made from peas, mung bean and rice.
  • Beyond Meat offers products for sale in 112,000 retail and foodservice locations in 85 countries.


Beef export sales up

  • Beef net sales for 2020 as of last week were 24,700 metric tons, up 37 percent from the previous week and up 67 percent from the prior 4-week average.
    • These substantial increases came mostly from Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Mexico.
  • Beef exports were noted at 16,600 metric tons as of last week, down 5 percent from the previous week, but up 2 percent from the prior 4-week average.
    • Primary destinations included South Korea, Japan, China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $218.98 (+1.24)
  • Select boxed beef: $207.62 (+0.08)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for Thursday, October 1, 2020

Minnesota judge tosses cattle price-fixing lawsuit

  • A case brought before a Minnesota federal court by cattle ranchers that alleged JBS, Tyson, Cargill and National beef of conspiring to reduce cattle prices by limiting production has been tossed out of federal court.
  • A new ruling from U.S. District Judge John Tunheim dismissed the complaint due to problems with the lawsuit’s witnesses.
  • The plaintiff’s case was built on two confidential witnesses.
    • A quality-assurance officer at a processing plant in the Texas panhandle/western Kansas region and a feedlot manager in the Texas panhandle. Both were ready to testify to price fixing by the plaintiffs (big four beef packers.)
  • According to the lawsuit, the quality-assurance officer claimed that a processor’s head of fabrication admitted to reducing purchase/slaughter volumes to reduce cattle prices. The feedlot manager alleged that the packers bid for cattle in a convoluted way that involved collusion and also drove cattle prices down.
  • Despite both claims, Judge Tunheim ruled that the witnesses didn’t provide enough detail, meaning that the feedlot manager’s company and the quality-assurance officer’s employer were not named.
    • Tunheim also ruled that the witnesses’ claims were targeting different areas of meat processing, which meant they were “mismatched.”
  • Judge Tunheim has allowed the plaintiffs 90 days to file amended complaints.


Farmers back Trump over Biden, 50 percent to 32 percent

  • According to a survey conducted by DTN, farmers and rural American’s back Trump over Democratic nominee Joseph R. Biden by a large margin, 50 percent to 32 percent, with 11 percent being undecided.
  • The survey contacted approximately 1,000 adults in rural counties across the U.S.
  • Despite rural Americans planning to vote for Trump in the coming election, most believe U.S. agriculture is worse off than it was four years ago.
  • According to Grey Montgomery, DTN’s senior vice president-agriculture and managing director of content, 57 percent of farmers believe that President Trump’s focus on agriculture has improved their farming and ranching financial outlook. Fifty-three percent approve of what President Trump has done while in office.
  • The survey also gathered information on the key concerns of rural Americans driving their decision on who to vote for in November;
    • 62 percent say that strength of economy.
    • 48 percent say health care is their main concern.
    • 39 percent say the protection of the Second Amendment.
    • 28 percent say trade.
    • 27 percent climate change.


New House bill would allow small meat lockers to expand

  • The Strengthening Local Processing Act was introduced on Wednesday in the U.S. House of Representatives by U.S. Representative Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) and Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE.)
  • The Act seeks to address market disruptions created by the coronavirus pandemic.
    • We saw local meat lockers become flooded with animals to process during the pandemic because the large processors either slowed their chain speed or completely shutdown. This caused a backup at the local level and local lockers were forced to schedule longtime customers a year or more out.
      • It is expected that local demand by consumers will continue going forward.
    • This bill will enable small meat lockers to grow and develop by expanding their capacity to process animals and serve more rural livestock producers.
    • This legislation includes a grant program that will help cover costs associated with meeting federal and/or state inspection guidelines and help processors expand their infrastructure.
    • Furthermore, the bill offers grants to train small-plant operators and employees.


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $217.74 (+0.58)
  • Select boxed beef: $207.54 (+0.55)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Brazil surges ahead in global beef exports

  • 2020 has proven to be a tough year for global markets due to Covid-19 causing a significant impact on the supply and demand for beef around the world.
  • Despite these challenges, Brazil has managed to experience an increase in beef exports mainly due to a softening exchange rate that has resulted in higher domestic prices and an advantageous export scenario.
  • The country is on track to reach a new global record for beef exports this year largely thanks to China who continues to deal with a protein deficit caused by African swine fever (ASF) and the increasing purchasing power of the Chinese middle class.
    • Brazilian beef exports to China as of August 1st were up 145 percent compared to year-ago levels. These exports account for 48 percent of all Brazilian beef exports.
    • Other key export markets include Saudi Arabia, the Philippines and Singapore.
  • Another major export market for Brazilian beef is the U.S.
    • So far this year, the U.S. has imported 10,000 metric tons swt (shipping weight) of mostly processed beef from Brazil.
  • According to the USDA, Brazil’s beef exports could surpass 2.5 million metric tons carcass weight equivalent (cwe), accounting for 24 percent of global beef exports. 2021 projections show that Brazilian beef exports could rise another 8 percent to 2.7 million metric tons cwe.
  • Brazilian cattle producers receive approximately $1.1 billion (U.S. dollars) to aid in pasture improvement, crossbreeding programs using imported cattle genetics, the acquisition of high quality seed stock and the increasing use of reproductive technologies.
  • Feedlots in Brazil only account for 10 percent of Brazil’s meat production, however, this number is expected to double over the next five years.
    • With increased feedlot production, Brazil may be able to challenge Australia and the U.S. in grain fed beef export markets.


The nation’s cattle herd is shrinking

  • According to CattleFax CEO, Randy Blach, the U.S. cattle herd is quickly shrinking.
    • During the Cattle Raiser Virtual Conference, Blach stated that last year numbers were down 350,000 hd. and he expects the same decrease this year due to drought and lack of profitability in the cow-calf sector.
    • He expects cow-calf numbers to decline by one million hd. in the next two years, compared to two years ago.
  • Blach feels that the cattle industry needs more harvest capacity so more profitability will flow back through the industry. Without increased capacity, the industry will remain vulnerable in the area of processing.


Farm Bureau report examines cattle market volatility, policy changes

  • The American Farm Bureau Federation has released a report that examines cattle market volatility highlighted by the Tyson plant fire in Holcomb, KS and the Covid-19 pandemic. The report also describes policy changes at the state and county levels of the organization for 2021.
    • A working group that consisted of ten state farm bureau presidents created the report.
  • Fundamental topics included in the report;
    • Mandatory minimum negotiated trade;
      • The working group discussed “triggered”-style mandatory minimum pricing that would be set on a region-by-region basis.
    • Risk management and education;
      • The working group would like to see AFBF work with the Chicago Mercantile Exchange to better address concerns from smaller producers.
    • Small capacity meat packing;
    • The working group reviewed policy solutions that would allow smaller packing facilities to play a larger role in the food supply chain.
    • GIPSA
    • Farm Bureau supports strengthening the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration’s ability to enforce market rules.


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $217.72 (-1.62)
  • Select boxed beef: $206.42 (-0.56)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for Monday, September 28, 2020

Iowa fines beef plant $957 after huge coronavirus outbreak

  • Iowa Premium Beef Plant located in Tama, IA has been issued a citation by Iowa regulators for a large coronavirus outbreak that resulted in 338 of the plant’s 850 workers testing positive for the virus.
  • The Iowa Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited the plant for failing to keep a required log of workplace-related injuries and illnesses, and for failing to provide the document within four hours after inspectors requested it.
    • Both these violations were labeled as “other-than serious.”
  • On September 2nd, Iowa OSHA administrator, Russell Perry, approved a settlement with Iowa Premium Beef that reduced the original penalty of $1,914 to a $957 fine.
    • Along with paying this fine, the company also agreed to correct the violations.
  • Democrats and labor activists have criticized OSHA for a negligent approach to worker safety during the pandemic. On the flip side, Iowa’s Governor Kim Reynolds, has defended the state’s approach, claiming it has helped to keep an imperative industry operating while protecting workers.
  • The plant has taken steps to prevent the virus’ spread by installing plastic barriers where possible, staggering breaks, adding seating, providing hand sanitizer and checking temperatures before entry.


Cattle on feed report

  • Cattle on feed as of September 1st; 11.4 million hd., 104 percent compared to 2019.
    • This is the highest September 1 inventory recorded since the series began in 1996.
  • Placements; 2.09 million hd. during August, 9 percent more than the same period in 2019.
    • Placements have been drawn-out through the summer after they were significantly light in the spring.
  • Marketings; 1.89 million hd. during August, down 3 percent compared to 2019.
  • For the most part, this report is considered neutral to bearish.


USDA funds $1 million in research project studying Covid-19 in U.S. beef supply chain

  • The USDA is funding a two-year research project worth $1 million that will identify how Covid-19 may be transmitted in the nation’s beef supply chain from cattle to packages of meat. The project is set to begin in October.
  • The goal is to help reduce the risk of exposure to the virus for consumers and people who work in the meat industry.
  • Even though there is no evidence that the virus spreads through food or food packaging, the USDA feels that this should be studied in order to understand how it behaves throughout the beef supply chain.
  • This research project comes at a time when China, the world’s top meat importer, continues to halt food imports from companies that have had their packaged products test positive for the virus.


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $219.34 (+1.86)
  • Select boxed beef: $206.98 (-0.76)


Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for Friday, September 25, 2020

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R-CALF and NCBA react to Senator Fischer’s legislation to address problems with the cattle markets

  • On Tuesday, Senator Deb Fischer (R-NE) introduced the Cattle Market Transparency Act of 2020.
    • The Act is an effort to restore robust competition in the fed cash cattle market.
  • R-CALF USA’s reaction:
    • According to Bill Bullard, the organization is happy that Congress is taking the dysfunctional cattle markets seriously by introducing the Cattle Market Transparency Act of 2020.
    • Bullard went on to say that he hopes even more bills would be introduced so the industry will have the ability to choose from the very best solutions to restore competition within the cattle industry.
    • He ended by stating that one of those bills must include the requirement that all beef sold in the U.S. be labeled with its country of origin.
  • NCBA’s reaction:
    • According to NCBA, more negotiated trade is needed throughout cattle feeding regions to ensure sufficient price discovery.
    • The organization feels that the issue of price discovery is of critical importance to cow/calf producers, stockers, backgrounders, and feeders across the U.S. With that being said, all of NCBA’s 46 state affiliate organizations unanimously adopted a fed cattle price discovery policy that takes a voluntary approach.
      • A working group of producer members are currently establishing triggers that must be met under this policy; if not met, NCBA will seek legislative or regulatory solutions comparable to Senator Fischer’s bill.
    • NCBA reported that the voluntary framework being developed must be given the opportunity to either fail or succeed before the organization will be willing to lend their support to regional mandatory minimums for negotiated trade.


Impossible Foods CEO on turning back clock on climate change

  • According to Impossible Foods’ CEO, Pat Brown, animal agriculture is the greatest threat to our future that humanity has ever faced.
  • Brown was on a recent Danforth Plant Science Center forum where he explained that the elimination of animal agriculture would enable photosynthesis to convert atmospheric CO2 back into plant biomass to restore a healthy ecosystem and wildlife habitat.
  • Brown said that 90 percent less agriculture land would be required but farmers would still be needed.
    • More plant crops won’t be needed as our current plant crops, such as soybeans, have seen significant increases in protein content over the last few years.
  • Brown went on to say that Impossible Foods it competing successfully against animal-derived beef in the marketplace. Their products continue to get better, while the cow stopped trying a million years ago.
  • According to the Animal Agriculture Alliance, greenhouse gas emissions from meat production are exaggerated. An EPA report from 2012 confirmed that meat production only contributes to 2.1 percent of greenhouse gas emissions per year.


Inside the market with Todd Hultman

  • According to USDA’s national estimates of production costs and what prices are expected to bring this year, corn will lose $89/acre, and soybeans will lose $41/acre.
  • According to Iowa State University, folks who purchased 560 lb. feeder steers to finish at 1,300 lbs. lost $144.67/hd. in the October 2019 to June 2020 period.
  • Iowa State University also reported that farrow-to-finish hog operations lost $23.30/hd. in the November 2019 to June 2020 period.
    • Some hog producers were forced to euthanize hogs since packing plants weren’t able to keep up due to Covid-19.


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $217.48 (+1.61)
  • Select boxed beef: $207.74 (+0.14)


Current Cattle Markets Daily Headlines for Thursday, September 24, 2020

Analyst’s estimates for Friday’s ‘Cattle on Feed’ report

  • Overall, analysts expect to see a notable increase in the number of cattle on feed, a result of expected strong placements during August at a time when marketings for the month were down compared to year-ago levels.
  • August 2020 had one more Sunday and one less Friday than August 2019. Since plants do not run on Sunday, one less day of slaughter will impact the number of cattle marketed.
    • Daily estimates show that steer/heifer slaughter for August was 3.5 percent lower compared to year-ago levels.
    • Monday through Friday slaughter averaged 2 percent below year ago levels.
    • August Saturday slaughter averaged 54,482 hd./day, 6.6 percent higher than 2019.
  • Analysts expect placements in August were up 6 percent compared to 2019.
    • If accurate, this will put placements close to 2 million hd. or 111,000 hd. higher than year-ago levels.
    • Producers pushing cattle into feedlots due to drought has likely caused higher placements.
    • Weekly feeder cattle sales data supports analysts projections of increased placements as weekly feeder cattle sales were up 15.3 percent compared to last year.
  • Concerns surrounding beef demand during the winter months, especially regarding foodservice demand, remains a key risk factor for feedlots looking to add to their inventory.
  • Increased imports from Mexico likely supported the total number of cattle placed on feed.
    • Feeder cattle imports from Mexico in the four weeks ending August 29th were 86,725 hd., 37 percent higher than year-ago levels.
    • Feeder cattle imports from Canada during this same period were 4,994 hd., down 36 percent compared to 2019.
  • Analysts expect on feed numbers as of September 1st to be somewhere around 11.355 million hd., 373,000 hd. more or 3.4 percent higher than year-ago levels.
  • Feedlots still have a sizable number of long fed cattle, and combined with increased carcass weights, this continues to weigh on the spot market trade.


Wal-Mart, Cargill, McDonald’s partner to improve ranch lands in the Northern Plains

  • In an initiative led by World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Wal-Mart, Cargill and McDonald’s are investing more than $6 million to make lasting improvements to the grasslands of the Northern Plains.
  • The Ranch Systems and Viability Planning project will support ranchers in Montana, Nebraska and South Dakota.
    • The project will include technical expertise and training that will help improve grazing practices.
  • WWF plans to work with ranchers on private and tribal lands to provide extension services in one-on-one settings and group workshops, offer technical advice and provide cost share to help ranchers design, record and implement ranch plans.
  • The RSVP project will aid ranchers so they continue to provide habitat for wildlife, store carbon, filter clean water, produce nutritious food and support communities for years to come.


USCA; Live virtual conversation

Friday, September 25, 2020 at 4:30 PM MDT with Senators Jon Tester and Mike Rounds. You can tune in through USCA’s Facebook page or YouTube Channel!

United States Cattlemen’s Association YouTube:

United States Cattlemen’s Association Facebook:

Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $215.87 (+0.43)
  • Select boxed beef: $207.60 (+1.30)

Current Cattle Markets Daily Headlines for Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Senator Fischer introduces Cattle Market Transparency Act of 2020

  • Yesterday, U.S. Senator Deb Fischer of Nebraska, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, introduced the Cattle Market Transparency Act of 2020.
    • This legislation will hopefully restore transparency and accountability in the cattle market by establishing regional negotiated cash minimums and equipping producers with more market information.
  • The Act will do the following to resolve ongoing issues within the cattle markets:
    • Regional mandatory minimum thresholds of negotiated cash trades will be established by the Secretary of Agriculture, public comment on the levels will be sought, and then the levels will be implemented.
    • Require USDA to create and maintain a library of marketing contracts between packers and producers, and require the packers to supply this information to USDA.
    • Mandate that a packer must report the number of cattle scheduled to be delivered for slaughter each day for the next 14 days.
    • Make clear that all information should be reported in a manner that ensures confidentiality.


Cap on brand inspector work week generates concerns

  • Earlier this month, the Nebraska Brand Committee made the decision to cap brand inspector’s schedules at 40 hours per week with absolutely no comp time to be authorized.
    • This decision was made so the brand committee could meet its budget obligations for a pot of money that’s earmarked for over-time pay.
  • Last week, ranchers and brand inspectors, along with a few state senators confronted the committee with concerns regarding this decision.
    • Many are worried that this fall’s cap in hours could potentially impact the number of available brand inspectors and possibly cause a halt to commerce.
  • Since the directive has been issued, there hasn’t been a backlog of inspections. Inspectors from other areas who are under the limited hours have relieved inspectors who have hit their 40 hours.
  • Brand Committee projections showed that if comp time weren’t cut, comp expenditure would be $240,000 over the given appropriation.
  • Unlike other state agencies that receive tax dollar appropriations from the legislature, the Nebraska Brand Committee is a cash fund agency.
    • However, the brand committee still must go before the legislature and ask for permission to use its checkbook.
  • Last year, the committee performed inspections on 3.6 million cattle.


Brand law working group to meet in Grand Island

  • A task force of cattle industry stakeholders has been assembled to help the Nebraska Brand Committee decide the future of Nebraska’s brand laws and the agency that enforces it.
    • The first meeting was held on Monday at Fonner Park in Grand Island in response to an interim study resolution that was introduced after hearings for two brand bills this past spring ended at an impasse.
      • LB 1165 would have ended mandatory brand inspection, eliminated the Nebraska Brand Committee, and transferred remaining duties for brand recording to the Department of Agriculture.
      • LB 1200 would have changed the fee structure supporting the Brand Committee, expanded the role of the Brand Committee to incorporate EID and other forms of animal ID to provide alternative means of brand inspection compliance, as well as offer additional services to the industry.
    • According to Senator Steve Halloran, there have been increased questions about the role and value of mandatory brand inspection and concerns expressed that the fees charged to certain segments of the industry is unfair.
    • The task force is made up of representatives from Nebraska Farm Bureau, Nebraska Cattlemen, Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska (ICON), an EID manufacturer, the brand committee, the Livestock Marketing Association, the dairy industry, Nebraska Beef Producers Committee, and farmers and ranchers.


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $215.44 (-0.78)
  • Select boxed beef: $206.30 (+0.48)

Current Cattle Markets Daily Headlines for Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Meat was once in short supply amid pandemic. Now, it’s on sale

  • Our country saw shortages of meat when the pandemic first hit in the spring, however we are now seeing supermarkets selling meat for lower prices due to rebounding supplies and exports declining.
  • Prices for ground beef and pork loins have finally returned to pre-pandemic levels. According to data from Nielsen, products such as chicken wings and prime rib are now cheaper than they were before the pandemic hit.
  • Repercussions from coronavirus have left steakhouses and other restaurants idle, along with reducing meat exports.
  • Gordon Food Service Inc., one of the largest U.S. distributors to restaurants, is now selling several beef cuts for half what they cost a few months ago.
  • B&R stores Inc., located in the Midwest, were restricting how much ground beef consumers could purchase during the pandemic, but now they have recently put the product on sale at a discount.
  • According to the USDA, meat processing is exceeding year-ago levels and contributing to the large supply of meat available that is driving down retail prices.
    • However, Tyson Foods Inc. reported in August that approximately one million cattle and about three million hogs are still backed up at the producer level because of processing plant shutdowns that we saw during the height of the pandemic.
  • USDA has projected overall cattle and cash calf receipts for producers to drop by $5.1 billion, or about 8 percent, this year.
  • The pandemic has caused meat exports to slow; in the month of July exports of chicken fell 2.6 percent, beef exports dropped 9 percent, and pork exports fell 4.8 percent.
  • Some meat executives recently warned that the industry is vulnerable to the pandemic’s impact on its workforce, and shortages might return. According to the CEO of Hormel, Jim Snee, the industry burned through its inventory during the pandemic and can’t afford any additional disruptions.


Hay urgently needed to feed 8,000 surviving cattle of Eastern Washington wildfires

  • According to the Northwest Interagency Fire Coordination Center, 32 homes have been destroyed along with 11 other building in central Washington where hundreds of thousands of acres have been burned.
  • Along with these losses, livestock have been greatly impacted by the fires.
  • Many ranchers in the area are now in need of hay and other feed for approximately 8,000 surviving cattle and hundreds of horses and other animals.
  • If you’d like to help in some way, you can find information on their Facebook page at Emergency Equipment Solutions.


Tracking agricultural trade: July changes

  • July marked the fifth consecutive month and sixth month in 2020 that the U.S. had a negative agricultural trade balance.
    • The negative balance in July totaled $596 million, bringing the total negative trade balance for the fist seven months of this year to $3.551 billion.
    • Net agricultural exports for January-June this year are down significantly compared to the same time period for the years 2016-2018.
  • Imports into North America increased by $784 million during January-July 2020 compared to the same period in 2019
  • The downward pressure on the trade balance is due to a mix of factors including retaliatory tariffs on U.S. agricultural products, weakened global demand thanks to the coronavirus and a relatively weak U.S. dollar.


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $216.22 (+0.58)
  • Select boxed beef: $205.82 (+1.88)


Current Cattle Markets Daily Headlines for Monday, September 21, 2020

Iowa Farm Bureau approves 50-14 policy, MCOOL

  • County Farm Bureau voting delegates recently adopted policy language on livestock, biofuels, biosecurity and other crucial state and national issues at the Iowa Farm Bureau’s 2020 Summer Policy Conference in Des Moines.
  • Some notable policy that resulted from the conference includes:
    • Support of MCOOL for cattle and beef that meet WTO requirements.
    • Reported data by the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service needs to be considerably more transparent and flexible.
      • This reporting process should include information about futures-based cash pricing.
      • All cattle sales information should be reported regardless of how the cattle are marketed.
    • Packers should be required to purchase a minimum of 50 percent of the cattle they purchase as negotiated cash sales with a 14-day delivery period (50/14 legislation.)
    • Incentives should be made available to small and start-up meat processing facilities to increase overall processing capacity.
    • USDA and the DOJ should increase their enforcement of GIPSA regulations to protect small and start-up packing facilities from price manipulation and other monopolistic practices.
  • Any national policy statements that came forward from the conference are not final Farm Bureau policy, however these policies will direct Iowa Farm Bureau efforts on national policy at the American Farm Bureau annual convention in January 2021.


Plant-based food producers sue state in federal court to block disclaimer requirement

  • Last week, Upton’s Naturals Co. and the Plant-based Foods Association sued the state of Oklahoma in federal court, seeking an injunction to prevent the Meat Consumer Protection Act from taking effect on November 1st.
  • This Act will prohibit sellers of plant-based foods from using “meat terms” to describe their products without a disclaimer that their product is actually plant-based.
  • The Meat Consumer Protection Act will make it illegal to sell vegan bacon or other products that will be labeled as meat without a “compelled disclaimer” that the product is plant-based in lettering that is the same size and prominence as the product name.
  • The Act specifically forbids advertising a product as meat if it is not derived from harvested production livestock.
  • According to the plaintiffs, the Act would fail any level of First Amendment scrutiny and is a content-based regulation of speech.
    • The plaintiffs claim that during the last legislative session, powerful meat industry lobbying groups asked the Oklahoma Legislature to make it more difficult for sellers of meat alternatives to compete with the meat industry.
  • In a recent press release, the plaintiffs stated that the Act doesn’t have anything to do with health and safety, but instead has everything to do with protecting the meat industry from competition. “This law, which was passed to prevent competition within the meat industry, clearly violates the First Amendment,” said plaintiff attorney Milad Emam.
  • Under Oklahoma’s 2019 statutes, the state already requires plant-based foods to list that the product is derived from plant-based sources, however it doesn’t require this statement to be displayed uniform in size and prominence to its product name.


U.S. details up to $14 billion in new aid for farmers

  • On Friday, the USDA released details of a second round of Covid-19 aid for farmers and ranchers that will pay up to $14 billion to producers of corn, soybeans, wheat, livestock, dairy and tobacco.
    • These new funds will be largely funded by the Commodity Credit Corporation and will include money for growers of specialty crops.
  • This second round of relief payments follow an initial relief program from April that set aside $19 billion. To date, less than $10 billion has been paid out.
  • Since the Trump administration took office, $28 billion in trade aid has been provided to the farm sector.


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $215.64 (+0.59)
  • Select boxed beef: $203.94 (+0.55)

Current Cattle Markets Daily Headlines for Friday, September 18, 2020

More African swine fever cases found in Germany

  • German officials announced earlier this week that they have discovered five additional cases of African swine fever in wild boards in the eastern state of Bradenburg.
    • When found, the boars were dead and located not far from the original ASF case.
  • Since the discovery of ASF, major markets including China, Brazil, South Africa, Mexico, South Korea and Japan have banned German pork imports.
  • In response to the ASF cases, Germany has established a danger zone around the Bradenburg area and both hunting and agriculture events involving pigs has been banned.


Two Northern Ireland meat plants have been approved to export beef to the U.S.

  • Foyle Food Group and WD Meats based in Coleraine, Ireland have been approved to export meat to the United States.
  • The beef market between the U.S. and Britian has been closed since the mid 1990s when a BSE outbreak occurred in the United Kingdom.
  • In March, the ban was lifted after the UK and the U.S. were able to agree on disease control standards.
    • The first shipments of beef are expected in the coming week.


Major chicken processors named in yet another price-fixing lawsuit

  • Earlier this week, two chicken growers located in Texas filed an antitrust and unfair competition lawsuit accusing five major poultry processors and their affiliates of illegally working together to crush small growers of broilers and artificially limit their compensation.
  • The plaintiffs claim that Koch Foods Inc., Perdue Foods, Pilgrim’s Pride Corp., Sanderson Farms Inc. and Tyson Foods Inc. shared numbers concerning grower pay rates and have successfully fixed prices on broilers since 2008.
  • According to the lawsuit, the two growers spent more than $120,000 to improve their broiler operations to meet processor standards to the extent where they allegedly were forced to either accept “non-competitive prices” for their chickens or face “financial ruin.”
  • The plaintiffs are seeking class-action status to include growers nationwide that have been paid by the co-defendants since at least 2013, along with appropriate damages and attorneys’ fees and costs.
  • Tyson Foods maintains that they want their contract poultry farmers to succeed. The processor claims that they have never discussed their compensation with other competitors.


Market price for beef in the last thirty years shows significant disparity

  • Since 1990, the average market price for live cattle has gone from $78.50/cwt to $117.81/cwt, a 50 percent increase.
  • Since 1990, average retail price for ground beef has gone from $1.49/lb. to $4.18/lb., a 180 percent increase.


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $215.05 (-0.33)
  • Select boxed beef: $203.39 (-1.12)

Current Cattle Markets Daily Headlines for Thursday, September 17, 2020

Kenilworth brahman heifers smash the record books at Charters Towers

  • A line of 104 yearling heifers weighing 666 lbs. recently sold in the northern region of Queensland for of $3,544 per head, $5.32/lb.
    • This outstanding price is more than double the normal commercial price for heifers in Australia.
  • Well-known seedstock producers Margaret and Kevin Maloney of Kenilworth Brahmans marketed the heifers.
  • The Maloney’s were astonished by the sale to say the least. Margaret Maloney said that dry weather conditions led to the decision to put the heifers on the sale.
  • The cattle market in Australia is very buoyant right now with a shortage of cattle because of drought and export trade playing in the their favor.


Strauss Brands lays plans for new beef plant

  • Beef processor Strauss Brands is currently seeking approval for a new 152,000 square-foot facility in Franklin, WS.
    • If approved, this plant would process between 250 to 500 cattle per day and employ about 260 workers.
  • Strauss Brands already operates a 41,000 square-foot plant in Franklin, where it employs approximately 170 workers.
  • In 2019, Strauss Brands proposed moving to nearby Milwaukee in search of expanded space, but this plan was met with resistance from Milwaukee’s community members and the members of the Milwaukee Common Council.
    • The company withdrew its Milwaukee proposal and instead laid plans to stay in Franklin after reaching an agreement with its hometown to redevelop a parcel of land there for its expansion.
  • A public hearing is scheduled on October 8th for the newly proposed Franklin facility.


Beef Promotion Operating Committee approves fiscal year 2021 checkoff plan of work

  • The Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB) will invest approximately $39,380,000 into programs for beef promotion, research, consumer information, industry information, foreign marketing and producer communications during 2021.
  • Last week, the Beef Promotion Operating Committee approved checkoff funding for thirteen “Authorization Requests”, also known as grant proposals, brought by nine contractors for the fiscal year beginning October 1st, 2021.
    • These nine contractors brought a total of $47,725,121 worth of funding requests, about $8.3 million more than the funds available from the CBB budget.
  • According to CBB Chair, Jared Bracket, cattlemen and women from across the U.S. and importers carefully considered every proposal to determine where checkoff dollars should be spent to increase beef demand providing producers with the best possible value for their checkoff investments.
  • Eight national beef organizations received approval for their proposals for fiscal year 2021. A few of the approved proposals:
    • NCBA: $26,442,207
    • United States Meat Export Federation: $8,350,170
    • Meat Import Council of America: $497,034
  • The Cattlemen’s Beef Board Budget for FY 2021 is about $43.1 million. Besides authorization requests, other expenses include:
    • $254,000 for program evaluation
    • $445,000 for program development
    • $720,000 for USDA oversight
    • $2.1 million for CBB administration
  • All authorization requests and budgets will now be sent onto the full Cattlemen’s Beef Board for approval. They will then be sent to the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service for review.


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $215.38 (-0.71)
  • Select boxed beef: $204.51 (-1.77)

Current Cattle Markets Daily Headlines for Wednesday, September 16, 2020

USDA boss’s home state got most trade aid per farmer, GAO finds

  • Last year, farmers in Secretary Perdue’s home state of Georgia received the highest average payments under President Trump’s $28 billion trade aid program, according to a report released by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) on Monday.
    • According to Senate Democrats, farms in the south received higher average payments and a large portion of aid went to bigger famers instead of family farms.
  • A spokesperson for the USDA replied to the allegations by stating that aid payments were “based on trade damage, not based on region or farm size.”
  • Georgia led the nation with payments of $42,545 per farmer versus a national average of $16,507 per farmer and $119 per acre versus a national average of $57 per acre in Trump’s trade aid program, according to the GAO.
    • Eight of the nine states with the highest payments per acre were located in the South.
  • A study conducted by Kansas State University economists published in May discovered that cotton farmers were considerably overpaid under last year’s trade aid program.
    • The study found that the 2019 payout for cotton farmers was 33 times the estimated financial impact of tariff disputes with China and other nations.
      • Georgia is the second largest producer of Cotton after Texas.
    • The GAO reported the top 25 farms in the program received an average of $1.5 million per farm in trade aid last year.
    • The USDA felt that the loftier portion given to larger operations was justified because large farmers account for 10 percent of all farms, they operate 52 percent of total farmland and generate 79 percent of the total value of production.


Ranch group urges USDA to reject Zoetis’ request to manufacture FMD vaccine on the mainland

  • R-CALF USA has filed comments with USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) claiming that the agency has no authority to approve Zoetis’ request to manufacture a food-and-mouth disease (FMD) vaccine on the mainland using a modified live FMD virus unless Congress first changes the law prohibiting the introduction of the live FMD virus into the mainland.
  • Zoetis’ petition states that the pharmaceutical company has obtained a permit from APHIS to introduce the live FMD virus into the mainland.
    • The petition claims that the live FMD virus introduced has been genetically modified to render it incapable of causing FMD infection in livestock.
      • R-CALF maintains that this doesn’t matter because Congress has been clear that the live FMD virus can only be introduced for three specific purposes and manufacturing of a vaccine is not one of them.
    • According to R-CALF, the petition itself lacks any citation or reference to any scientific study that substantiates Zoetis’ and APHIS’ claim that the modified live FMD virus is incapable of causing infection in livestock and wildlife.
    • The ranch group feels that APHIS should voluntarily withdraw its petition on the grounds that it seeks comments for an unlawful act and because it is essentially inadequate for purposes of analyzing the possible risk the petition potentially harbors for the U.S. live cattle industry.


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $216.09 (-1.12)
  • Select boxed beef: $206.28 (-1.48)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for Tuesday, September 15, 2020

JBS hit with OSHA fines

  • The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited JBS Foods Inc. in Greeley, CO, for failing to protect their employees from exposure to the coronavirus.
    • OSHA has proposed $15,615 in penalties.
  • OSHA cited JBS for a violation of the general duty clause for failing to provide a workplace free from recognized hazards that have the potential to cause death or serious harm.
    • The company also failed to provide an authorized employee representative with injury and illness logs in a timely fashion following OSHA’s May inspection.
  • JBS responded to the penalties by saying they strongly disagree with OSHA’s citation. The company feels that the citation attempts to impose a standard that did not exist in March as they fought the pandemic with no guidance.
  • JBS now has fifteen business days from receipt of the citations and penalties to either comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings.


The 115th National Western Stock Show postponed until January 2022

  • The 115th National Western Stock Show has been postponed by one year and will resume in January 2022, according to the Western Stock Show Association Board of Directors and the National Western Stock Show management.
  • Covid-19 inhibits the Stock Show from being held while complying with the health and safety guidelines that are necessary to protect Coloradans and all those who attend.
  • The environment through the rest of the year is uncertain and consequently not reassuring enough to allow the event to take place without possibly compromising the health and safety of exhibitors, visitors, and the public at large.
    • Spread of the virus is also a major concern with this cancellation.
  • The Stock Show will return January 8th through the 23rd, 2022 with the grand opening of the historic Yards and Stockyards Event Center


Beyond meat is launching meat-free meatballs in grocery stores

  • Beyond Meat originally partnered with Subway last year for their meatless meatballs, but grocery stores are now asking for the item.
    • Over the past 52 weeks, demand has surged by 145 percent for the plant-based meatballs.
  • The meatballs are made with pea protein, brown rise and Italian seasoning.
    • Suggested retail price is $6.99 for a 12 pack.
  • These meatballs mark Beyond Meat’s third new grocery product in the U.S. this year.
  • Beyond Meat has a market value of $8.42 billion and has seen their shares rise 78 percent this year as of last week Friday.


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $217.21 (-2.68)
  • Select boxed beef: $207.76 (+0.66)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for Monday, September 14, 2020

“Why cutting back on beef is good for you and the planet”

  • Americans eat an average of 58 lbs. of beef per year, while the world average is right around 14 lbs.
  • Prevention magazine, a lifestyle magazine that features articles on fitness, wellness, food and nutrition, and other health topics, has released a statement saying they will no longer create any new recipes containing beef.
  • The magazine plans to put their focus on other types of protein because they feel beef poses a problem for the planet. They think that raising animals is an inefficient business and isn’t sustainable.
    • A 2006 study reported that beef production is usually harder on the planet than other protein sources, and industrialized beef production is responsible for up to 80 percent of deforestation in the Amazon.
  • According to Sujatha Bergen, director of health campaigns at the National Resources Defense Council, if every American, on average, cut the equivalent of a burger out of their diet every week, it would be the same as taking 10 million cars off the road each year.


PETA billboard near JBS blames meat consumption for rainforest destruction

  • A new PETA billboard located near JBS Grand Island accuses JBS and those that eat meat of causing the partial destruction of the Amazon rainforest.
  • A news release from PETA claims that more than 80% of deforestation in the Amazon is linked to meat production.
    • Furthermore, the United Nations has stated that animal agriculture is responsible for nearly one-fifth of human induced greenhouse-gas emissions. The UN feels a global shift to vegan eating is needed to combat the worst effects of climate change.
  • According to JBS spokeswoman, Nikki Richardson, JBS USA in Grand Island does not source cattle from the Amazon region. Instead, the plant supports producers in Nebraska, South Dakota, Kansas, Iowa and Minnesota.
    • Richardson went on to say that JBS is focused on producing food sustainably, while supporting American agriculture.
  • PETA blames the meat industry and those who support it for the deaths of parrots, monkeys, and other wildlife who make their home in the Amazon.
    • The organization says it plans to place identical billboards near other JBS locations across the U.S.
  • PETA’s president, Ingrid Newkirk said in a press release that PETA wants everyone to know that they can help save the rainforest by going vegan and the organization is there to help people make the transition.


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $219.89 (-0.94)
  • Select boxed beef: $207.10 (-0.22)



Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for Friday, September 11, 2020

Thick clouds of mosquitoes kill livestock after hurricane

  • Since Hurricane Laura hit, southwest Louisiana has been experiencing clouds of mosquitoes so thick that they’ve been killing cattle and horses.
  • Approximately 300-400 head of cattle have been lost in the area northeast of where the storm made landfall on August 27th.
  • According to Dr. Craig Fontenot, a large-animal veterinarian, the swarms of mosquitoes have been so thick that the vast number of bites leaves horses and cattle anemic and bleeding under their skins.
    • The animals also quickly become exhausted from constantly moving in an attempt to avoid the biting insects.
  • A deer rancher in the area lost about 30 of his 110 animals that had already been sold, a loss of $100,000.
  • Spraying has begun throughout the area and the mosquito populations are beginning to decrease.


Germany confirms first case of African swine fever

  • On Wednesday, German officials confirmed the country’s first African swine fever (ASF) case in a wild boar found in the eastern state of Brandenberg.
  • The infected boar was discovered near the border with Poland.
    • Poland is one of the many European countries that have been fighting ASF for a while now. The country had to lock down almost 450 farms following the discovery of the disease in a western province.
  • Germany is Europe’s leading pork producer and the disease may not impact commercial supply, but it will most likely jeopardize export capabilities because of customer fears.
    • South Korea and the Philippines have already imposed bans on German pork.
  • This finding of ASF in Germany may help U.S. pork producers if countries that currently buy pork from Germany do decided to suspend trade.
    • If China decides to close its border to German pork, who so far this year has accounted for 14 percent of China’s pork imports, U.S. pork producers could see demand significantly increase.
  • China has been dealing with its own ASF issues. The country’s pork imports through July were nearly 2.5 million metric tons, 105 percent higher than the same period a year ago.
    • The U.S. has become the top supplier to China during the first seven months of this year, seeing exports jump four-fold to almost 478,000 metric tons.


Daily livestock report; U.S. imports of fresh/frozen beef

  • Data has shown a big surge in U.S. beef imports this summer, and July statistics have confirmed those numbers.
    • Total imports of fresh/frozen cooked beef were noted at 127,174 metric tons, 40.7 percent higher than year-ago levels.
    • The largest increase in imports came from New Zealand. In the month of July, the U.S. imported 26,203 metric tons, almost double what was imported in 2019
    • Imports from Argentina were noted at 2,746 metric tons, when back in 2019, the U.S. imported almost nothing from that country.
    • Imports from Brazil in the month of July were 7,800 metric tons, approximately 141 percent higher than year-ago levels.


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $220.83 (-2.12)
  • Select boxed beef: $207.32 (-0.19)


Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for Thursday, September 10, 2020

Tyson Foods becomes first U.S. food company to verify sustainable cattle production practices at scale

  • On Wednesday, Tyson Foods announced its work to verify sustainable beef production practices on more than 5 million acres of cattle grazing land in the U.S.
    • This will be the largest beef transparency program in the U.S. and goes along with Tysons’ focus to feed the world while taking care of people, planet and animals.
  • Tyson Foods will source cattle from BeefCARE-verified beef producers who are committed to raising cattle using practices that not only positively impact the land and animals, but also want to promote it.
    • BeefCARE is a third-party sustainability verification program for cattle ranchers. Its standards include practices such as having a cattle grazing management plan to help promote vegetative growth and diversity, water availability and quality, prevent/reduce soil erosion, and support carbon sequestration.
    • So far, more than 200 ranches are enrolled in the program with plans to expand the program over the next several years.
    • BeefCARE is recognized by the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef.
  • Tyson Foods will also work with The Nature Conservancy to ensure improved management of grasslands and rangelands.
  • Sasha Gennet, director of Sustainable Grazing Lands for The Nature Conservancy in North America, stated that Tyson is setting a great example of a company that is taking proactive steps to achieve a sustainable beef system that supports farmers and ranchers while improving our critical natural resources.
  • According to Tyson Foods, sustainability throughout the food system is fundamental to their core values.


Profit Tracker: Margins underwater again

  • After one week of cattle feeders experiencing profits, margins have made their way back into the red.
  • Average negotiated cash cattle prices have fallen $2, resulting in the average feedyard closeout showing losses of $42 per head, according to the Sterling Beef Profit Tracker.
    • Closeouts have fallen $91 per head compared to last week’s average profit of $134 per head.
  • Packers are now seeing profits of $439 per head, an increase of $9, even though the boxed beef cutout fell $2 to about $225 per cwt.
  • A year ago the first week of September, feeders saw cash losses of $119 per head, while packers saw profits of $429 per head


Beef and pork exports rebound, but remain below 2019 levels

  • July beef exports totaled 107,298 metric tons, down 9 percent from 2019. These exports equated a value of $647.8 million, the highest since March, but still down 10 percent from last year.
    • On a per head basis, beef’s export value was at $280.40 in July, down 5 percent from year-ago levels.
  • For pork, exports totaled 222,035 metric tons, down 5 percent from last year. These exports were valued at $548.3 million, down 12 percent from 2019.
    • On a per head basis, pork’s export value was $48.85 in July, down 17 percent from 2019.


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $222.95 (-1.87)
  • Select boxed beef: $207.51 (-0.95)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Tag, you’re it: USDA proposes phasing out metal id tags by 2023

  • In July of this year, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) published a proposal in the Federal Register to phase out the metal clip tags and replace them with RFID (radio frequency identification) tags.
    • Under this proposal, the USDA would stop recognizing metal clip tags (including bangs tags) as official identification for cattle and bison, and would only recognize RFID tags by 2023.
  • USDA published a similar plan in April of 2019, but R-CALF USA and two ranching families sued, and as a result they pulled the rule.
    • The lawsuit claimed that the USDA’s proposal constituted a rule change, which required them to take public comment before deciding how to proceed.
      • That comment period is what USDA is now seeking, even though they aren’t referring to the proposal as a “rule change.” Comments are due on October 5th, 2020. So far 178 comments have been received.
    • Harriet Hageman, the attorney for the R-CALF lawsuit opposing USDA’s implementation of a mandatory RFID rule, feels that USDA is outside the scope of its authority to require the use of RFID tags.
      • According to Hageman, in 2013, the USDA estimated that an RFID mandate could cost between $1.2 and $1.9 billion dollars. With that being said, she has been informed that the actual cost would be significantly higher.
      • Hageman also stated that ear tag companies stand to make billions of dollars off this requirement, while producers will only incur additional costs.


USCA sends letter over concerns with Mexican beef

  • On Tuesday, the United States Cattlemen’s Association sent a letter to leaders at the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and Food and Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) regarding concerns associated with contaminated Mexican cattle, lamb, poultry, and swine.
    • Recently, 54 people fell ill after consuming meat contaminated with Clenbuteral, a beta2-agonist that promotes muscle mass and meat yield in some livestock.
  • In the letter, USCA President Brooke Miller explained how it is unacceptable to allow contaminated meat into the U.S. where we have an industry that prides itself in producing the highest quality, most sustainable, and safest beef in the world.
    • He went on to ask APHIS and FSIS to reevaluate the public health risks associated with importing beef and meat from Mexico. He also suggested conducting an equivalence verification to confirm that Mexico is still maintaining a regulatory food safety inspection system that is equivalent with the United States’.


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $224.82 (-1.03)
  • Select boxed beef: $208.46 (-0.84)


Current Cattle Headlines for Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Bob Evans files lawsuit against 19 processors for chicken price inflation

  • Bob Evans Farms is suing 19 poultry processors for both restricting the supply of chicken and engaging in price manipulation.
    • A few of the main processors being sued include Tyson Foods, Pilgrim’s Pride, Koch Foods, Sanderson Farms, House of Raeford Farms, and Perdue Farms.
  • According to the lawsuit filing, Bob Evans is demanding a trial by jury to seek treble damages from the defendants, who are suspected of partaking in an “illegal conspiracy” from “at least as early as 2008 through at least as late as 2017.”
  • This lawsuit is the latest in a number of high-profile illegal developments against the packing industry.
    • Four current and former poultry industry executives were indicted in Denver in early June for price fixing and rig bidding. Not long after, the DOJ launched an investigation related to antitrust violations by the big four beef processors; Tyson, JBS, Cargill and National Beef.


Cash cattle slide backwards

  • Lower packer inventory needs due to a holiday week caused cash cattle prices to decline again last week.
  • For the past several weeks, packer participation has been somewhat limited in the cash market with only two packers participating, and the other two fulfilling their inventory needs with turn-in cattle.
  • The South traded mostly at $102-$104, and the North’s cash market also ranged mainly from $102-$104.
  • Packers taking on more inventory prior to the holiday week allowed them to sit out and leverage the extra volume to push the market lower with potential extended delivery periods.


Beef is proving more profitable than chicken in the pandemic

  • According to analysts, U.S. and Brazilian chicken producers have been struggling amid oversupply, weak prices, and sluggish competition. Some analysts are even saying a production cut may be needed to prop up prices.
    • Beef on the other hand has benefited from stronger demand and prices.
  • Peter Galbo, an analyst of Bank of America, claims there will be a flood of red meat coming into the market this fall and retail features for beef are expected to rise significantly.
    • Chicken, however, is experiencing such low prices and demand that retailers can’t justify advertising the protein.
  • Brazilian poultry companies are facing weakness in both export and local sales.
    • Export prices in August fell 20 percent from year-ago levels and chicken production margins were noted at a negative 5 percent compared to August 2019.
  • Brazilian poultry producers have found themselves at a crossroads with weak export demand and rising costs. In order to lift prices and return to profitability, producers must lower supply.


Current Cattle Market Headlines for Monday, September 7, 2020

New Zealand suspends live cattle exports after ship capsized off Japan

  • New Zealand has suspended the export of live cattle after a ship carrying 43 crewmembers and almost 6,000 head of cows capsized off Japan last week.
  • Animal activists have raised concerns about the safety and ethics of transporting livestock by sea.
    • According to Will Applebe, a spokesperson for an animal welfare group in New Zealand, this type of trade must be banned.
  • The ship, the Gulf Livestock 1, left Napier, New Zealand, in mid-August and sent a distress call early last Wednesday near southern Japan.
    • An air-and-sea rescue mission was launched and so far two crewmembers have been rescued and hospitalized.
    • As of last Friday, cow carcasses were scattered atop the water.
  • Since the news of the missing ship broke, New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industries said that it would temporarily stop considering export applications for live cattle as they work to determine what caused the ship to capsize.
  • New Zealand has numerous restrictions on the export of livestock, effectively outlawing the trade since 2007. However, many live cattle are sent abroad for breeding.
    • According the ministry’s data, approximately 40,000 head of cattle have been exported so far this year.
  • Gulf Livestock 1 was supposed to reach China in about 17 days, but instead, the ship found itself in the midst of a typhoon.
    • One of the survivors told the Japanese Coast Guard that the ship had lost an engine as it navigated choppy seas. A wave flooded its deck in the middle of the night, eventually causing the vessel to sink.
  • The Japanese Coast Guard suspended the search on Friday for more survivors as a typhoon approached.


Canadian packer’s Covid-19 cases double

  • On Friday, Harmony Beef north of Calgary, Alberta, saw their Covid-19 cases double in a week’s time, according to the CBC News.
    • The processing facility had 66 active cases and eight recovered as of Thursday. The week before they had 36 active cases.
  • This is the second Covid-19 outbreak at Harmony Beef since the pandemic first hit.
  • Alberta’s chief medical officer, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, feels that one of the factors leading to these outbreaks is workers fearing the loss of income and coming into the plant to work while infected.
    • Harmony Beef released a statement claiming that any workers with coronavirus will be compensated under Canadian law.


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $225.85 (-1.39)
  • Select boxed beef: $209.30 (-3.20)

Current Cattle Markets Daily Headlines for Thursday, September 3, 2020

Montana candidate for governor unveils growth plan with COOL initiative

  • Montana’s Lt. Governor Mike Cooney, recently unveiled an economic growth plan that would revive Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) for meat products made in Montana.
    • Cooney also happens to be running for governor.
  • The proposed “Growing Montana” initiative would encourage the support and development of local and regional state-certified meat processing facilities.
    • The initiative would also expand the “Made in Montana” and “Grown in Montana” brand to meat products.
  • The program would reinstate COOL for beef and pork products in an attempt to provide an edge to Montana producers and deliver more information about the state’s products.
  • In May, U.S. Senator Jon Tester launched the first bipartisan effort to support COOL for beef products on Capitol Hill since MCOOL measures were repealed in 2015.


Tyson to close or sell plant in Wrexham, Wales

  • Tyson foods is planning to either sell or close its meat processing plant in Wrexham, Wales. The company may possibly discontinue operations at the facility on September 30th.
    • The closure of this facility will result in 71 jobs being lost.
  • According to a Tyson spokesperson, the plant is closing due to the inability to generate profitable growth and the need to adapt to shifting consumer needs.
  • The plant originally opened in 1962 under Frimbo Foods and has been a major employer in the Wrexham area.


Brazil top beef exporter in 2020

  • Brazil is expected to be the largest beef exporter in the world this year exporting 2,550,000 lbs. of beef.
    • Their exports account for 23.93 percent of world exports.
  • Following Brazil is Australia with 1,400,000 lbs. of beef, 13.14 percent of world exports, then India with 1,400,000 lbs., making up 13.14 percent of world exports, and finally the U.S. with 1,322,000 lbs. accounting for 12.4 percent of the world’s beef exports.
  • Brazil, India, Australia, and the U.S. are projected to account for roughly 63 percent of the world’s beef exports.


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $227.58 (-0.76)
  • Select boxed beef: $213.82 (-0.93)


Current Cattle Markets Daily Headlines for Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Alternative meat startup is hoping this 3D-printed steak could upend the meat industry

  • Redefine Meat, an Israeli alternative meat startup, is looking to break into the international faux meat market with whole-cut steaks.
  • According to Redefine Meat’s CEO, Eshchar Ben-Shitrit, the company wants to produce a product comparable, or even better than animal protein.
  • Ben-Shitrit says Redefine Meat is focused on creating industrial-level 3D printers that would eventually be sold to meat distributors around the world.
  • “The idea is to replace a cow. So each of our machines produce in a day exactly like a cow, up to 250 kilograms in a single day,” he stated.
  • The CEO feels that faux meat is the best way to fight climate change, to deliver healthier solutions and food to the entire world.
  • The company plans to keep the cost of 3D-printed steaks comparable to real steak, somewhere between $5 to $12 per pound.
    • The steaks will be unveiled at high-end restaurants in Israel, Switzerland, and Germany by the end of 2020.
  • Redefine Meat’s recipe contains soy and pea proteins, coconut fat and sunflower oil, among various other ingredients.
    • The full list of ingredients is a secret, but the company claims all ingredients are plant-based and vegan.
  • Venture capital money has been rolling in and the global faux meat market is projected to reach a value of $8.1 billion by 2026, according to Allied Market Research.


Ft. Pierre butcher plant still awaits USDA inspection

  • Kim Ulmer recently purchased the old Bad River pack building in Ft. Pierre, and it is now known as US Beef producers.
  • Before purchasing the facility, Ulmer was told by the USDA that he would receive his grant of inspection within 90 days of application. Since then, he has had his HACCP (hazard analysis and critical control points) plan rejected numerous times, even after he hired certified consultants to help him.
  • Ulmer and 13 others invested half a million dollars in their plant and were planning to invest more to remodel space in order to open a retail store.
  • Cattle were scheduled and a grand opening was planned for the 4th of July, but everything had to be cancelled.
  • The group had to fight to get “not for sale/custom kill” certified and have been busy with custom processing. However, Ulmer worries that there isn’t enough business in the area to support the plant once the pandemic panic passes.
  • “Some people are living the dream; right now I’m living the nightmare of government regulations,” said Ulmer. He went on to say that he feels like the government doesn’t want them to be in business.
  • Fourteen individuals bought a plant, based on the USDA saying they would give them inspection. It’s been six months since the purchase, and the business is no closer to inspection than they were in March.


The September decision,programs%20within%20the%20Beef%20Checkoff.

  • On September 9th and 10th, twenty cattlemen and women will gather in Denver, CO to discuss, debate and essentially allocate $40 million for eligible beef industry programs within the Beef Checkoff.
  • This group of individuals is known as the Beef Promotion Operating Committee and they represent cow/calf, feeders, stockers, dairy, and importers.
    • Sixteen different states are represented within this group.
  • Being a part of the Operating Committee takes a strong individual, as they must decide how millions of producer’s dollars are spent between promotion, research and education projects.
  • Members of the Operating Committee pay Checkoff dollars themselves so they strive to make decisions that are best for fellow cattle families, and the entire beef industry.


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $228.34 (+0.39)
  • Select boxed beef: $214.75 (-0.57)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for Tuesday September 1, 2020

Cool case vs. big packers is appealed

  • Two lawsuits brought against the big four beef packers (JBS, Cargill, Tyson, and National Beef) over packages of their beef labeled “Product of the U.S.A.”, have been appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th
    • A cattle producer and a consumer filed these two lawsuits separately in February in U.S. District Court in New Mexico. The lawsuits were later consolidated.
  • Both parties claimed that labeling beef products “Products of the USA” misleads consumers because the beef can be raised and harvested in another country, yet it is still eligible for a “Product of the USA” label.
  • Last week, the District Court judge agreed with the defendants that the federal law that allows such labeling supersedes the State of New Mexico’s laws regarding consumer protection.
    • The labels were considered lawful at the federal level since the USDA had approved them.
  • The cases were dismissed with prejudice, meaning they were dismissed permanently.
  • The plaintiffs were seeking compensatory and punitive damages treble the compensatory damages, and an injunction barring packers from continuing the alleged consumer deception and requiring them to disclose the origin of products from foreign cattle.


British processors say meat eating unfairly maligned

  • The British Meat Processors Association recently launched a website in hopes of dispelling negative notions about eating animal protein.
  • The website promotes British meat highlighting its sustainability, high standards and support for the nation’s farmers.
  • According to Nick Allen, the association’s CEO, most people look to the media for help with their diet and lifestyle choices, but much of that information tends to be misleading.
  • The British Meat campaign makes the case for a “balanced approach” in feeding the world’s nearly 10 billion people and addressing climate change


U.S. agricultural imports have grown significantly over last quarter century

  • The U.S. has become one of the largest agricultural importers in the world over the last quarter century.
  • In 1994, imports totaled $27 billion. In 2019, imports reached a level of $128 billion.
  • The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) signed in 1994, which was then replaced by the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) in July of this year, has played a key role in this surge of imports.
    • S. imports from the North American region increased more than six-fold from $8.2 billion in 1994 to $52 billion in 2019.
  • Consumer oriented products such as fresh fruits and vegetables, beef products, and wine and beer have led the increase.


Boxed beef prices

Choice boxed beef: $227.95 (-1.45)

Select boxed beef: $215.32 (+0.46)


Current Cattle Markets Daily Headlines for Monday, August 31, 2020

Taiwan paves way for U.S. trade deal by easing pork, beef imports

  • On Friday, Taiwan announced it would be easing restriction on the import of U.S. beef and pork.
    • This news comes at a time when tensions are rising between Taiwan and China, and the island is looking to boost ties with Washington.
  • In the past, Taiwan has kept barriers up against U.S. pork and beef due to health concerns; primarily concerns over mad cow disease and additives.
  • According to President Tsai Ingwen, Taiwan plans to allow the import of U.S. pork containing ractopamine and allow in U.S. beef older than 30 months of age.
    • She feels this decision will boost Taiwan-U.S. ties and also work to help the country’s strategic development.
  • Last year, Taiwan-U.S. trade was worth $85.5 billion, with the U.S. running a $23.1 billion deficit.


China books record weekly U.S. beef purchases, also buys U.S. corn,the%20most%20in%20a%20month.

  • According to the USDA, China made it largest weekly U.S. beef purchase on record during the week of August 16th when they purchased 3,315 metric tons of U.S. beef.
    • This is the largest weekly buy in records dating back to 1999.
  • That same week China purchased their biggest U.S. corn deal in almost a month, 747,000 metric tons. China rounded out the week by purchasing 11,216 metric tons of U.S. pork, the most in a month.
  • China has been aggressively importing beef, pork, and poultry this year as they continue to battle African swine fever. They are also making record U.S. agricultural purchases this year as part of the Phase 1 trade agreement signed back in January.
    • The Phase 1 trade agreement promised that China would purchase $36.5 billion in annual U.S. commodities. In the first half of this year, the country only purchased $7.274 billion in commodities.


Boxed beef prices, Brazilian cattle herd expands, and U.S. beef and pork production looking to set records

  • Choice boxed beef: $229.40 (-2.14)
  • Select boxed beef: $214.86 (+0.60)


  • Largest cattle inventory in Brazil on record has been recorded this year at 244.1 million hd. This number is up 5.00 million head from 2019.
  • Every year since 2000, Brazil’s cattle numbers have grown. From 2000 to present day, their cattle herd has increased 98 million head.
  • For comparison, the U.S. has approximately 103 million head of cattle. Brazil reached that number in 1979.


  • The U.S. is projected to produce 27.1 billion lbs. of beef this year. If realized, this will be the fourth highest on record and only the fifth time over 27 billion lbs.
  • Pork production is scheduled to be approximately 28.6 billion lbs. This will be the highest on record and the first time over 28 billion lbs.


Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for Friday, August 28, 2020

Mexican officials investigate possible Clenbuterol poisonings

  • Health officials in the Mexican state of Morelos, south of Mexico City, are investigating a foodborne illness event that has caused more than 50 people to fall ill from eating beef that is suspected to have been contaminated with Clenbuterol.
    • Clenbuterol is a livestock feed additive that is used to promote muscle mass. It is illegal in the U.S., Europe, and Mexico.
      • It was originally developed for the treatment of animals with reparatory issues.
    • Research done in 2019 showed that the feed additive was found in about half of beef and beef liver samples collected from points of sale in the Morelos area, at levels that exceeded the maximum limits recommended by the Codex Alimentarius.
    • Fifty-four people have fallen ill with headaches, increased sweating, insomnia, nausea, possible muscle spasms and perhaps increased blood pressure. One individual has been hospitalized.
    • Health officials are working to pinpoint the origin of the potentially contaminated meat by testing products available for purchase in the area.
    • The Mexican government has a program in place that certifies various links in the meat supply chain as being Clenbuterol-free, in an effort to provide producers and feeders with incentives not to use the additive.


Impossible Foods rolls out plant-based patties to more grocery stores

  • Impossible Foods is expanding its offering in the grocery store channel with pre-formed, quarter pound patties at nearly 2,000 stores owned by The Kroger Co.
    • The patty packs of the Impossible Burger will be featured at Kroger, Ralphs, Fred Meyer, Mariano’s, Smith’s and other Kroger-affiliated stores. They will also be available for online ordering.
  • The patties will be located in Kroger’s fresh meat section in 8-oz. packages, two patties per package. They will retail for $6.99 per package.
  • According to Ravi Thakkar, Impossible Foods’ vice president of Product Management, these new patty packs enable home chefs to create the perfect dish. In just four minutes, the Impossible Burger can go from the refrigerator to the grill to your plate.


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $231.54 (+0.09)
  • Select boxed beef: $214.26 (+0.15)


Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for Thursday, August 27, 2020

Wal-Mart settles lawsuit alleging overcharges for meat

  • Earlier this month, Wal-Mart agreed to settle a class action lawsuit that accused the retailer of improperly labeling weighted goods such as beef, pork poultry, fish and other products marked with unit pricing as those goods neared their expiration dates.
    • Wal-Mart denied any liability or wrongdoing in the matter.
  • As part of a settlement agreement, Wal-Mart has agreed to pay, on a claims-made basis, a minimum of $4.5 million up to a maximum of $9.5 million.
  • The settlement stems from a lawsuit filed by Vassilios Kukorinis in February of 2019 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
    • Kukorinis claimed that from February, 2019 to present day, Walmart advertised false unit prices for weighted goods placed on sale close to their respected expiration dates.
  • Wal-Mart will fund a Qualified Settlement Fund to provide class members with the opportunity to submit a claim for payment.


R-CALF USA’s weekly address

  • On July 15th, 2020, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a proposed rulemaking titled, ‘Made in USA Labeling Rule.’
    • This rule proposes to strengthen the FTC’s made in USA labeling requirements to reserve the USA label only for products in which among other things all significant processing that goes into the product occurs in the U.S. and all of the product’s ingredients are made and sourced in the U.S.
    • The FTC is specifically seeking public comments on whether there are any current statutes, rules or policies that may conflict with the FTC’s proposal.
  • According to Bill Bullard there is a conflict. While the FTC wants to ensure that only products actually made in the U.S.A. carry a U.S.A. label, the Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, has a policy that states that foreign beef product that enters the U.S. and is subject to only minor processing, such as being taken out of a big box and packaged in smaller boxes can bear a product of U.S.A. label. This is the very kind of conflict the FTC needs to hear about.
  • The USDA’s policy that allows a U.S.A. label on imported beef deceives consumers and should be considered deceptive.
  • The FTC comment deadline is September 14th.
    • R-CALF is now encouraging folks to submit comments supporting the FTC’s proposal, but only beef that is born, raised, and harvested in the U.S. should be eligible for a made in the U.S.A. label.
  • To submit your comments, go to and type in made in U.S.A. labeling rule, and then go to the comment box to submit your comments.
  • According to Bullard, this could be a very important first step in waking our sleeping representatives in D.C. about the importance of accurately informing consumers about the difference between domestic beef and foreign beef that has lesser standards than beef here in the U.S.


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $231.45 (+1.77)
  • Select boxed beef: $214.11 (+1.85)

Current Cattle Markets Daily Headlines for Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Feeding margins in the black

  • After a seven-week rally in negotiated cash fed cattle prices, cattle feeding margins have finally went into the black.
  • Last week’s average profit was noted at $40 per hd. Closeouts were calculated with a $106.82 average fed cattle price against an average breakeven of $103.82 per cwt, according to the Sterling Beef Profit Tracker.
    • A month ago losses averaged approximately $142 per hd.
  • Even though the packers bid higher for fed cattle last week, packer margins increased $75 per head to $372.
    • This increased profit was a result from the Choice beef cutout price jumping $12 per cwt to $220.
  • One year ago to the third week of August, cattle feeders saw cash losses of $55 per head, while packers saw profits of $482.
    • This week a year ago was the first week to be impacted by the Holcomb plant fire in Finney County, KS.


USDA appoints JBS rep to Food Safety Advisory Committees

  • Last week, the USDA appointed ten new members to the National Advisory Committee on Meat and Poultry Inspection (NACMPI) and an additional new member to the National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods (NACMCF.)
  • According to Under Secretary for Food Safety Dr. Mindy Brashers, these committee members represent a diverse group distinguished by their knowledge and interest in meat and poultry safety.
    • Members of these committees play a key role in informing USDA’s food safety decisions to ensure the U.S. continues to have one of the safest food systems in the world.
  • New NACMPI members are appointed to serve two-year terms. For the most part, these new members come from universities, however Ms. Sherri Williams, a JBS representative has also been appointed to the committee.


Brazil prosecutors sue JBS to test chicken plant workers for Covid-19

  • Brazilian labor prosecutors have sued JBS to compel the removal of workers at one of its chicken processing plants.
    • Prosecutors are asking the company to assess their health and ultimately test for coronavirus.
  • The request comes on the heels of JBS’s Montenegro plant in the southern Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul reporting 26 confirmed Covid-19 cases.
    • There are an additional 301 suspected cases at the facility.
  • According to the federal prosecutors, this suit is the seventh they have filed against JBS since the onset of the pandemic.
  • JBS continues to claim they abide with federal rules passed in June governing factories operating amid the pandemic.


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $229.68 (+2.21)
  • Select boxed beef: $212.26 (+1.01)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for Tuesday, August 25, 2020

USCA joins letter to Secretary Perdue on U.S. beef

  • On Monday, the United States Cattlemen’s Association joined eleven other national, regional, and state groups in a letter to Secretary Sonny Perdue requesting that U.S. meat and meat processors be prioritized within the USDA’s Farmers to Families Food Box Program.
    • The program provides food boxes of fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy products, and meat products to folks experiencing financial hardship due to the ongoing pandemic.
  • The letter questions the current regulatory loophole which USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service acknowledged allows for imported beef to be labeled ‘Product of the U.S.A.’
    • USCA along with other groups included in the letter are concerned that the current regulations governing beef and pork products could allow for misspending of federal aid dollars to be spent on imports, and foreign goods.
    • The groups want to be sure the USDA prioritizes applicants who have shown established relationships with independent regional meat processors to fill their order
  • Besides USCA, a few of the other groups that singed onto the letter include: Kansas Cattlemen’s Association, Independent Beef Association of North Dakota, Family Farm Action Alliance, and many others.


Trump says could ‘decouple’ and not do business with China

  • In a Fox News interview on Sunday, President Trump said there is a possibility the U.S. economy could cut ties with China.
    • In the interview Trump stated that the U.S. doesn’t have to do business with China. If China doesn’t treat the U.S. like they should, Trump feels that he will certainly decouple from China.
  • A partial Phase 1 trade deal was reached with China back in January after a high-stakes trade war. Since then, Trump has shut the door on Phase 2 negotiations because he was unhappy with Beijing’s handling of the pandemic.
  • In June, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said a decoupling of the U.S. and Chinese economies would occur if U.S. companies were not allowed to compete on a level playing field in China’s economy.


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $227.47 (+1.53)
  • Select boxed beef: $211.25 (+2.26)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for Monday, August 24, 2020

New owners of Fed Cattle Exchange have changes on the menu

  • For the last four years, the Fed Cattle Exchange was an online bidding platform that gave cattle feeders the option of listing pens of cattle for a Wednesday bidding contest.
  • Recently Central Stockyards, LLC, purchased the Fed Cattle Exchange.
  • Central Stockyards is owned by Percipio Partners, LLC, a private equity firm invested into farmland, real estate and rural companies. The firm is based out of Omaha, NE.
  • According to Forrest Roberts, CEO of Central Stockyards and former CEO of NCBA, the company plans to give cattle feeders more selling options to help improve value discovery for fed cattle.
    • Roberts said there are a lot of people frustrated beyond what he has ever seen in his entire life, regarding the lack of transparent price discovery through negotiated trade for fed cattle.
    • He feels that this acquisition will be a huge win for the industry long term if Central Stockyards can provide a robust form of price discovery.
  • Roberts stated that Central Stockyards has some near-term changes in mind for Fed Cattle Exchange.
    • Soon the Fed Cattle Exchange will offer more options than just the current live cash bid and buy option, with a few small photos of the pens of cattle on the website.
    • Central Stockyards is almost ready to roll out a negotiated grid of “bid the grid” option for sellers and buyers. The grid will be loosely based off of the 2021 CME specs.
    • Sellers will soon be able to provide more information about their cattle including videos, testimonials from the cow-calf producers, feed details and more, when they reveal the new Central Stockyards site later this year.
      • Roberts noted that if there is a set of Mexican origin cattle that will be noted. Integrity will be at the forefront going forward. The company wants to make sure the buyer receives full transparency.
    • Roberts stated that there is a chance that Central Stockyards may provide selling options for feeder and bred cattle in the future.


Cattle placements jump 11 percent

  • According to the USDA, placements of cattle into feedlots in the month of July were 1.893 million head, 11 percent more than July 2019.
    • Most of these placements weighed between 700 and 900 pounds and will be marketed this winter and through early spring.
  • Marketings of fed cattle during July totaled 1.99 million head, one percent below a year ago.
  • Total number of cattle on feed as of August 1st was 11.284 million head, two percent above year ago levels. This is the highest August 1 inventory since the series began in 1996.


Expanded price limits

  • Last week, the CME announced proposed changes to live and feeder cattle futures price limits.
  • Pending approval by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, these changes will be implemented on October 5th, 2020.
  • The changes amend daily price limits to adjust the current, initial daily price limit for Live Cattle futures from $3.00 to $4.00/cwt. Feeder Cattle futures will go from $4.50 to $5.00/cwt.
  • The expanded price limit for Live Cattle will now be $6.00/cwt. The Feeder Cattle expanded price limit will now be $7.50/cwt.


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: 225.94 (+0.56)
  • Select boxed beef: $208.99 (+2.68)


Current Cattle Markets Daily Headlines for Friday, August 21, 2020

USDA awards contracts for RFID ear tags

  • The USDA recently awarded contracts to purchase up to eight million RFID ear tags.
  • This contract allows USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to purchase additional tags each year for up to five years.
  • USDA’s Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Greg Ibach said that RFID tags will help the cattle industry quickly respond to potential disease events.
    • USDA believes RFID devices will provide states and the cattle and bison industries with the best opportunity to rapidly contain the spread of high economic impact diseases.
  • Last spring, APHIS distributed more than 1.1 million RFID tags to 38 states since this last spring.


Trump losing support among farmers over handling of virus, survey says

  • According to a survey conducted by DTN Progressive Farmer, President Donald Trump is losing re-election support among farmers over his handling of the coronavirus outbreak.
  • The survey polled 500 farmers. Survey data showed 71 percent of farmers plan to vote for Trump, down from 89 percent in April. Additional data showed 43 percent of farmers are satisfied with Trump’s response to the pandemic, down from 84 percent.
  • When DTN conducted their survey four years ago, results showed Trump was poised to capture the rural vote over Hillary Clinton.
  • A farmer-sentiment index ready of 47 for the current environment is the lowest in over 10 years.


Cattle prices surge to record in Australia as supply tightens

  • Australia’s benchmark cattle price index has surged to a record level as slaughter rates plunged amid reduced processing capacity and tightening supplies.
    • Slaughter rates have slumped by 30 percent year-on-year in the week ending August 14th, according to Meat & Livestock Australia.
    • MLA also reported that the Eastern Young Cattle Indicator increased to $7.76/kilogram ($5.57) on Wednesday.
  • Australian cattle producers have been holding replacement females back to restock their herds amid optimism over solid rainfall in many parts of the country after many years of drought negatively impacted herd numbers.


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $225.38 (+2.34)
  • Select boxed beef: $206.31 (+0.66)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for Thursday, August 20, 2020

Temporary change to imported beef

  • McDonald’s Canada has has had a long-standing commitment to serve 100 percent Canadian beef. However, the fast-food chain will now source beef from outside of Canada due to supply chain issues caused by Covid-19.
    • Sourcing of global beef will end once the country’s beef supply stabilizes.
    • The company is working closely with Cargill and other McDonald’s suppliers around the globe to meet current beef demand.
  • Canada’s beef industry is currently facing processing capacity issues, including the temporary closure of Cargill’s High River, Alberta processing facility.
  • The company plans to source as much Canadian beef as possible and fill in the gaps with beef from pre-approved global McDonald’s suppliers and facilities.
  • McDonald’s is committed to supporting Canadian ranchers and farmers, and the company looks forward to the day when they can go back to sourcing 100 percent Canadian beef.


Maxwell Foods files lawsuit against Smithfield Foods

  • Days after announcing the permanent closure of its hog operations in 2021, Maxwell Foods has filed a lawsuit against Smithfield Foods.
    • The company claims that Smithfield failed to provide favored nation pricing as required by the Production Sales Agreement, its refusal to provide Maxwell a fair price and its failure to purchase Maxwell’s output as required by the PSA. These actions were intentional and are unlawfully running Maxell out of the business.
  • Maxwell and Smithfield entered into a PSA on December 5th, 1994. Smithfield agreed to purchase, and Maxwell agreed to sell, all market swine produced by Maxwell in Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.
    • The agreement stated that Smithfield would purchase all of Maxwell’s output at the “most favored” national price, up to 155,000 hogs per month.
  • The agreed to pricing formula was derived from the average daily price of live hogs on the Iowa-southern Minnesota spot market.
    • The PSA stated that Maxwell and Smithfield would substitute a new basis for deriving the average terminal price if their specific spot market “ceased to be a viable market.”
  • After Smithfield acquired Caroll’s and Murphy’s, two other major swine producers, in 1999, Maxwell said the increased consolidation in the industry caused a sharp decline in volume of hogs traded in spot markets.
    • Maxwell began to feel the affects of the consolidation and Smithfield’s aggressive vertical integration in 2016. Prices paid to Maxwell in the following years declined along with the prices in the Iowa-southern Minnesota market.
  • Smithfield responded to the suit by saying the commodity market issues were a response to low livestock prices, which the company has also suffered from.


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $223.04 (+2.18)
  • Select boxed beef: $205.65 (+1.00)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for Wednesday, August 19, 2020

The bears are building in the cattle market

  • Cattle markets have been favorable over the past two months as feeder cattle prices increased significantly, cash cattle prices have slowly climbed higher, and the board has rallied with the cash markets.
    • Feeder cattle contracts hit their low in April at $118 and have since risen to $144 in just three and a half months.
  • According to DTN Livestock Analyst, ShayLe Stewart, the cattle market is due for a correction.
    • Stewart warns that often times the fall market becomes saturated with too many cattle, inhibiting the market’s ability to rally.
  • The majority of the live cattle market’s strength goes hand in hand with Labor Day coming up. Whether or not packers will continue to be aggressive in the cash cattle market after the holiday weekend is anyone’s guess.
  • Cattle producers need to pay close attention to how the market moves in the coming weeks. Feeder cattle will be well tested, stated Steward, as both the Superior Livestock Auction and Western Video Market are selling thousands of feeder cattle this week.


Parts of Nebraska seeing major drought for the first time in 8 years

  • Last year at this time, many people in northeast Nebraska were recovering from the devastating floods. However, this year they are dealing with significant drought conditions.
  • According to the latest drought monitor released on Thursday by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, approximately 12.6% of the state is in severe drought conditions.
    • That number is almost double compared to the week prior, and just a few weeks ago there were no severe drought conditions anywhere in Nebraska.
  • Cuming County cattle and grain farmer, Joe Knobbe, said that the drought conditions have added stress on farmers in his area “on top of an already rugged 2020.”
    • He went on to say that high yields have dwindled with the absence of rain. Lower corn yields could possibly increase the price of feed and also lead producers having to source it from farther away, which increases costs.
  • Neighboring states are also experiencing drought conditions.
    • Iowa has about 6% of its area in extreme drought.
    • Colorado has 61% of its area in severe drought, and nearly 24% in extreme drought.


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $220.86 (+3.60)
  • Select boxed beef: $204.65 (+2.71)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for Tuesday, August 18, 2020

NCBA’s Kent Bacus explains why we need to import small amounts of beef

  • Kent Bacus, Director of International Trade and Market Access for NCBA, recently stated in an interview that trade is one of the most misunderstood issues in the cattle industry.
  • Bacus explained that 95 percent of beef produced in the U.S. is finished in a feedlot, but we don’t produce enough to meet our domestic ground beef demand.
  • Most of what we import are lean trimmings to supplement our hamburger market. If we didn’t have these imports, producers would shy away from hamburger due to the short supply and instead turn to chicken, Bacus said.
  • All imported beef must meet an equivalent safety standard as we have here, which is important not only for consumers, but also for our cattle producers.
  • Bacus went on to say that restricting imports wouldn’t do us any good because it won’t help us meet domestic beef demand. He said often more government intervention leads to vertical integration.
    • “The last thing we need now is more vertical integration, as we need freedom to deliver what the consumer wants,” stated Bacus.


Perdue suggests CFAP2 may be coming

  • Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue has suggested that the second round of Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) for farmers and ranchers could be arriving by the end of August of early September.
  • Perdue noted that the cutoff date of April 15th for financial damages was likely not sufficient to cover losses by cattlemen during that time frame. He went on to say that the second round of CFAP payments would help “even out” losses incurred after April 15th.
  • When asked about expanding the payment limits to individuals, Perdue said he wasn’t ready to answer such questions, but there has been discussion considering the expansion of such limits.
  • Rules for this next round of payments, along with sign up will begin early in September.


Pepperoni shortage strikes small pizza places across the U.S.

  • We’ve seen various products such as toilet paper and Clorox wipes fall victim to the pandemic. We are now seeing pepperoni being negatively impacted by the pandemic.
  • According to Bloomberg, pizza shops across the nation are reporting a shortage of America’s most popular topping, pepperoni.
    • A pizza shop in South Dakota is now paying $4.12/lb. compared to $2.87/lb. back in January 2019.
  • Two factors have led to this pepperoni shortage;
    • Pork processors have dealt with slowdowns and shutdowns due to the virus.
    • The demand for pizza has risen since many people are staying home for dinner; many families have turned to ordering pizza.
  • Larger pizza chains have yet to be impacted by the shortage because they purchase their pepperoni through long-term contracts.


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $217.26 (+3.02)
  • Select boxed beef: $201.94 (+2.65)



Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for Monday, August 17, 2020

Covid-19 contaminated meat carcasses are packaged, carried to consumers

  • Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), a non-profit physician’s group, is asking a federal court to immediately order meat and poultry processing plants to test their products for Covid-19, and make the results public.
    • PCRM is a group that advocates for reducing reliance on animals for scientific research and for preventative medicine, as well as monitors federal food policy.
    • The group asked for this mandate on Wednesday as they filed a lawsuit against the USDA.
  • According to PCRM, the USDA rejected a petition in May asking to implement new meat and poultry testing requirements for Covid-19, as well as labeling to warn consumers that meat could carry the virus.
    • The USDA rejected the petition on the basis that PCRM failed to reference studies or show supporting information backing up its claim that coronavirus can be transmitted by meat and poultry products.
  • PCRM feels that processing plants are vulnerable for disease spread because of workers being in close proximity each day with thousands of animal carcasses. They believe the virus is spread from workers to animal carcasses to the packaging and finally to the consumer when they purchase the meat.
  • The physicians would like to see a label on packaging that warns consumers of U.S. meat and poultry processing facilities being greatly affected by the virus, and the product that they are purchasing is not certified virus-free.


How swapping plant-based products for meat may improve cardiovascular study

  • A small study was recently published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition conducted by Stanford Medicine that swapped Beyond Meat for beef, pork, and chicken. The results showed that non-animal protein products lowered some cardiovascular risk factors.
    • The study was conducted with 36 participants over a 16-week period.
    • Participants saw a drop in LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol), reduced TMAO (trimethylamine N-oxide, linked to cardiovascular disease) levels in some cases, and lost an average of two pounds.
  • The real meat used in the study consisted of beef, pork and chicken products. The beef product used was 80% lean and 20% fat ground beef, the most common red meat product for most Americans.
    • ABC News medical unit resident Nate Wood, MD, stated that if other lean meat products with less saturated fats would have been used, the results may have been different.
  • The study was funded by an unrestricted gift from Beyond Meat.


Central Stockyards acquires the Fed Cattle Exchange


  • Central Stockyards acquired Fed Cattle Exchange, the only weekly fed cattle online auction, on July 24th. Lots of questions have been raised as to what this means for the cattle industry going forward. Folks are wondering how this acquisition will affect competition and if the leaders of Central Stockyards have too close of ties to NCBA.
  • S. Cattlemen’s Association will be hosting a Q&A session with Central Stockyards’ President and CEO, Forrest Roberts, and Director of Operations, Surcy Peoples on August 18th at 7:00 AM MDT. To join, dial 866-254-5984, no passcode needed.


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $214.24 (+3.29)
    • $8.77 higher than last Friday’s close.
  • Select boxed beef: $199.29 (+1.88)
    • $6.54 higher than last Friday’s close.


Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for Friday, August 14, 2020

Mission Barns will now let the public try their new cultured bacon

  • Cultivated meat maker, Mission Barns, is now offering consumers an opportunity to sign up for a chance to be one of 50 to 100 selected tasters to try bacon grown from real pork fat cells, no animal slaughter included.
    • Cultivated proteins have yet to hit the market, as they haven’t been approved for commercial sale.
  • Cultivated bacon is made when pork cells are taken from a pig, fed a mixture of nutrients and sugar to grow, and then they continue to grow and “fatten up” until a slice of bacon is formed.
  • There are approximately 36 cultured protein companies across the globe, all working to make cultured proteins a commercial reality. These companies are making cultured meat ranging from seafood to chicken nuggets.
  • When these cultured meat products will actually hit store shelves remains to be seen.


Brazil’s JBS, the world’s top meatpacker, posts better than expected Q2 results

  • On Thursday, JBS posted second quarter net profits nearly twice as high as the average of analysts’ estimates after a strong performance of its beef and pork divisions in Brazil and the U.S.
    • JBS showed a net profit of $629 million for the quarter.
  • After this strong second quarter, the company has increased its consolidated net revenue to approximately 12.6 billion dollars, up 33%.
  • According to JBS, the second quarter was highlighted by strong Brazilian beef exports to China, which increased 53% in dollar terms compared with the same period a year ago.


Chinese cities find coronavirus in frozen food imports, WHO downplays infection risk

  • Two cities in china have found traces of coronavirus in cargoes of imported frozen food, according to local authorities.
  • Local Chinese authorities have reported samples taken from the surface of frozen chicken wings imported into Shenzhen from Brazil and from the outer packaging of a frozen Ecuadorian shrimp sold in the city of Xian, have tested positive for the virus.
  • Scientists and officials say there is no strong evidence that coronavirus can spread via frozen food.
  • World Health Organization’s head of emergencies program, Mike Ryan, stated that people should not fear food, food packaging, or delivery of food.
  • In addition to screening all meat and seafood containers coming into major ports in recent months, China has suspended numerous meat imports from various places, including Brazil, since mid-June.


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $210.95 (+1.86)
  • Select boxed beef: $197.41 (+1.42)

Current Cattle Markets Daily Headlines for Thursday, August 13, 2020

Fighting for rural Colorado and agriculture

  • Governor Polis of Colorado recently appointed a woman who identifies herself as a vegan activist to the State Board of Veterinary Medicine.
    • The appointee, Ellen Kessler, posted on her personal social media account that, “4-H clubs teach children that animal lives don’t matter.”
  • Kessler will be asked to guide and enforce professional standards for veterinary practitioners. She will also have various other responsibilities that will directly impact those involved with agriculture in Colorado.
  • A letter has been made available that will be sent to Governor Polis, the Office of the State Auditor, and members of the Senate and House committees on agriculture requesting that Kessler’s appointment to such a post be retracted prior to her confirmation hearing during the upcoming legislative session.
  • Whether it be forced wolf reintroduction, thinly veiled anti-agriculture agendas stemming from the Governor’s office, or just a disregard for and comfortable detachment from those in agriculture, now is the time to stand up for rural Colorado and the state’s multi-billion dollar agriculture industry.


Senator Michael Bennet wants USDA to investigate coronavirus spread at JBS plant

  • Democratic Senator Michael Bennet wants the Agriculture and Labor Departments to investigate the spread of coronavirus in the JBS meat packing plant in Greeley and other processing facilities.
    • JBS’ processing plant in Greeley experienced an outbreak of 300 workers coming down with the virus and 6 dying.
  • Bennet specifically wants to know if the use of the Defense Production Act affected agriculture facilities.
  • The employees union at JBS is also asking for an investigation into the deaths. The union is also asking Republican Senator Cory Gardner about testing that was promised, but never delivered.


Boxed beef prices and import/export numbers

  • Choice boxed beef: $209.09 (+1.01)
  • Select boxed beef: $195.99 (+0.97)
  • S. cattle imports are down 1% from 2019 with 1.1 million head of cattle being imported so far this year.
  • S. cattle exports are up 8% from 2019 with 120,000 cattle exported in 2020.

Current Cattle Markets Daily Headlines for Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Maxwell Foods shutting down hog operation

  • Maxwell Foods located in Goldsboro, NC will be permanently closing its hog operations in 2021.
    • According to Pork Powerhouses report in 2019, the company ranked #22 with 54,000 sows.
  • Low prices paid for pork, coupled with the affects of the Covid-19 pandemic have made for an unbearable financial situation.
  • The company will be shuttering operations in a phased approach, ending in mid-2021.
  • Current grower contracts will be honored. The company has about 150 contract farms in its system.
  • The North Carolina Pork Council is deeply saddened that the continual poor economic conditions have caused Maxwell Foods to cease their hog operations. “Maxwell Foods and its network of family farmers have been an important and vital part of eastern North Carolina communities and their economic stability,” said the NC Pork Council.


NCBA adopts policy to support U.S. CattleTrace

  • NCBA has adopted new policy in support of U.S. CattleTrace and its mission of advancing disease traceability in the U.S. cattle industry.
  • The policy resolution calls for NCBA to support the expansion of U.S. CattleTrace and directs the organization to encourage and help facilitate state affiliate support and educational efforts.
  • Animal disease traceability has been a priority in the U.S. cattle industry for years; it has been included in the Beef Industry Long Range Plan multiple years. The most recent plan supports aggressive animal disease traceability growth and expansion targets.


Derecho smashes grain storage

  • Grain bins among many other structures were damaged by a widespread thunderstorm, derecho, which moved across the Midwest on Monday.
  • As the storm moved east across Nebraska into Iowa, then Illinois into Wisconsin, it picked up speed and destructive power.
  • Wind speeds of 70 mph were recorded in Nebraska on Monday morning. Through Iowa wind speeds reached up to 99 mph, and finally exceeded 100 mph once it reached a large swath of Illinois and Wisconsin by midafternoon.
  • Damage assessments will become more clear as the week goes on. Countless grain bins on farms and at local elevators suffered extensive damage as many were empty, or close to it, as they were getting ready for an expected large corn crop at harvest.


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $208.08 (+0.88)
  • Select boxed beef: $195.02 (+1.09)

Current Cattle Markets Daily Headlines for Tuesday, August 11, 2020

U.S. farm state senators in a beef over livestock bill

  • In May, Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa and a bipartisan group of colleagues introduced a bill that would require our large packers such as Tyson, JBS, and Cargill to buy a minimum of fifty percent of their cattle on the cash market and have those animals killed within two weeks.
    • According to Grassley, this bill would increase competition among packers and make it easier for cattle producers to track market prices instead of leaving them in the dark when the majority cattle are purchased on formula contracts.
  • Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas, chair of the Senate Agriculture committee, is a surprising challenger of the bill.
    • Roberts said he is currently working to understand the diverse perspectives within the industry regarding market volatility and transparency.
  • An industry lobbyist noted that some cattle producers don’t believe Grassley’s bill will help create more competition. Besides that, meatpackers are against the bill and some producer groups feel the legislation will do more harm with the federal government dictating free market practices.
  • Adam Jones, owner of Crooked Creek Angus located in St. Francis, KS, said that the whole system is working for the benefit of the packers, not for cattle producers. “For Roberts to not give cattle producers the chance to be heard is completely tone deaf,” said Jones.


Eastern South Dakota reports missing cows and more

  • Both Hamlin County and Yankton County currently have open cases of cattle presumed stolen.
    • Thirty-nine head of yearlings went missing from a farm near Lake Poinsett, SD, between the dates of July 1st and July 15th.
    • Seventeen head of fall bred cows were stolen and loaded into a trailer from their pasture near Lesterville, SD, between the evening of July 21st and the morning of July 22nd.
  • Bill Hutchinson of Martin, SD, a former brand inspector and current chairman of the South Dakota Stockgrowers’ brand committee, stated that branding your livestock will not prevent attempts of theft, but it is a huge deterrent to would-be thieves.
    • Hutchinson feels that brand inspection itself is a significant deterrent. If people know cattle will be brand inspected at a sale barn or for private sale they will think twice. Having your cattle branded provides a much better chance of finding them and prosecuting the thieves.
    • Counties located west of the Missouri river in South Dakota require brand inspection; everything to the east does not.
    • Hutchinson believes it would be best for the whole state to be included in the brand inspection area, however it is up to the producers in the counties east of the river to make their voices heard if they want to participate.
    • Hutchinson went on to say that an ear tag has it’s place for animal identification, but it doesn’t replace a brand that permanently identifies an animal for life.


Boxed beef prices;

  • Choice boxed beef: $207.20 (+1.73)
  • Select boxed beef: $193.93 (+1.18)


Current Cattle Markets Daily Headlines for Monday, August 10, 2020

Senators bring #faircattlemarkets to capitol hill

  • Last week, Senator John Tester of Montana and Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa both advocated the cause of fair cattle markets for U.S. cattle producers in front of the U.S. Senate. Both senators urged support for their 50/14 legislation.
  • Senator Tester explained that something is amiss within competition in the cattle business. Rural America is being cast aside and falling prey to corporate interest whose sole purpose is to make a quick buck.
    • Tester explained that the Holcomb fire halted five percent of the country’s beef distribution capacity. In the weeks following this event, consumers saw a sharp increase in meat prices, while cattle producers saw a steep decline in cattle prices.
      • It was no coincidence that the meatpacking industry reported record profits during this time.
      • The cash market took a steep decline following the fire, followed by more price manipulation by the packers as cattle slaughters increased by 5,000 hd. that following week.
    • In April and May of this year, we saw the highest price disparity between the price of boxed beef and the price cattle producers were receiving for their cattle. This was caused by the U.S. beef processing industry reducing their capacity by 40% because of slowdowns or shutdowns triggered by the coronavirus.
      • The packers again used this crisis to manipulate the markets and take advantage of cow calf producers, along with small and mid-sized feeders.
    • The packing industry has used both of these events to force markets to work only for them. One of the ways packers enable this is by limiting the transactions taking place on the cash market. Senator Tester and Grassley have introduced the 50/14 legislation to hold corporate packers accountable, make pricing more fair for producers, and bring money back into rural economies.
    • Senator Grassley explained that consolidation of the beef industry is threatening the livelihood of farmers and ranchers across the U.S. Rural communities are also threatened by this consolidation.
      • Not only are producers hurt by consolidation, consumers are impacted greatly as we’ve seen the price of beef in the grocery store sky rocket to the point of hurting beef demand.
      • Packers dominate the marketplace and they are able to limit opportunities for price negotiation.
      • Senator Grassley feels that the ag committee needs to hold a hearing on the issues facing the cattle industry and the roadmap which USDA laid out with their report concerning market conditions.
        • The report released by the USDA about three weeks ago came close to endorsing the 50/14 concept that Senator Grassley and Tester are proposing.


Tyson beef plant fire will be historically significant to beef producers

  • The Tyson plant fire in Holcomb, KS occurred on August 9th, 2019. The week following this event, the industry saw cattle markets react with limit down days.
    • The plant represents six percent of the total U.S. fed cattle packing.
  • “It’s a disaster. This is our tsunami,” said Herreid, SD, cattle feeder Herman Schumacher.
  • There were specific events throughout history that caused the market to crash; Nixon’s 1973 beef “freeze,” the 1986 dairy buyout, and the 2003 BSE cow said Schumacher. All these events had a common theme- beef got cheaper for the consumer, but we didn’t see that with the Holcomb fire.
  • The week following the fire, the reported price for a choice carcass went up almost $200 per carcass while the active bidding for a finished steer dropped about $130 per head.
  • Schumacher said that his Tyson buyer bid $2-$4 per hundred weight lower than other regional buyers just before the fire, which meant that Tyson had enough cattle secured for that week.


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $205.47 (+0.81)
  • Select boxed beef: $192.75 (+0.74)

Current Cattle Markets Daily Headlines for Friday, August 7, 2020

More farmers declare bankruptcy despite record levels of federal aid

  • The U.S. is seeing more farmers file for bankruptcy even though federal payments are projected to reach record levels this year to counteract the slump in the agricultural economy caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Approximately 580 farmers filed for chapter 12-bankruptcy protection in the 12-month period ending June 30th, according to federal data.
    • This number is 8% more than year-ago levels.
  • The Trump administration is expected to pay out a record $33 billion in payments to farmers this year, according to the University of Missouri’s Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute.
    • These government payments will make up 36% of farm income this year, the highest share in almost two decades.
  • Paul Swanson, an Oshkosh, WS based attorney has 40 open farm-bankruptcy cases, about a third more than last year. He has clients that received federal coronavirus aid but still wound up in bankruptcy.
    • He feels that agricultural markets were poor before the pandemic, and the pandemic just intensified the situation.
  • According to the National Pork Producers Council, hog farmers have lost nearly $5 billion in actual and potential profits for 2020.
  • S. farm debt has grown steadily since 2006 when a commodity boom encouraged farmers to borrow heavily. According to the USDA, farm debt is up to $425 billion this year. The largest sum since the farm crisis of the 1980s.
  • Agricultural economists say more farms could end up in bankruptcy next year without additional aid. If more aid isn’t extended, farm income is slated to fall 12% in 2021.


Conversion of Greeley lamb plant paused for 30 days

  • According to Cameron Bruett, Head of Corporate Affairs for JBS and Pilgrim’s Pride, JBS officially acquired the Mountain States Rosen lamb processing plant last week.
  • Due to interest in the transaction, JBS has agreed to not make any material changes to the facility for 30 days as a sign of good faith. During that time the DOJ will have the chance to look into any concerns that have been raised. JBS welcomes their review.
  • Bruett also added that last week JBS offered to lease back the facility to the former owners for 90 days to ensure stability for local producers. The company was informed that such actions weren’t necessary, as a new lamb processing facility will be opening in the region this fall.


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $204.66 (+1.09)
  • Select boxed beef: $192.01 (+1.19)

Current Cattle Markets Daily Headlines for Thursday, August 6, 2020

Profit tracker: triple digit feeding losses continue

  • According to the Sterling Beef Profit Tracker, cattle feeding losses were estimated at $157/hd. the week ending July 31st.
    • Negotiated cash trade for the week averaged $99.33/cwt., about $1 higher than the previous week.
  • Packer margins were estimated at $286/hd. This was about $9 less than the previous week.
    • Choice beef cutout price averaged $200/cwt., about even with the previous week.
  • A year ago, cattle feeders were turning a profit of $61/hd. on closeouts the last week of July. That same week, packers were seeing a profit of $153/hd.


Bulgaria to cull almost 200 rare pigs in African swine fever outbreak

  • On Wednesday, Bulgarian veterinary authorities reported that they plan to cull almost 200 pigs from a rare local breed after detecting an outbreak of African swine fever.
    • The outbreak was detected after 15 of the 212 pigs died on the small farm located in the eastern side of Bulgaria.
  • Bulgaria has been forced to cull more than 170,000 pigs since 2019.


DOJ intervenes in JBS acquisition of MSR lamb plant

  • JBS closed on its acquisition of the Mountain States-Rosen (MSR) lamb processing plant in Greeley, CO on July 31st. The company acquired the processing plant after submitting the winning bid during a bankruptcy auction.
  • JBS had plans to shut down all lamb processing at the plant and instead process beef. This change has the potential to impact sheep growers in at least 15 western states.
  • “Inside sources” have confirmed that the DOJ has issued a 30-day standstill order halting JBS from making any changes to the plant.
  • Frank Moore, Wyoming sheep rancher and MSR Vice Chairman said the sheep industry will be devastated if JBS does go through with this acquisition and discontinues lamb processing in Greeley. Without MSR, the sheep industry will not have enough processing or fabrication capacity.


Boxed beef prices

Choice boxed beef: $203.66 (-0.58)

Select boxed beef: $191.01 (+0.56)

Current Cattle Markets Daily Headlines for Wednesday, August 5, 2020

USDA responds to petition calling for checkoff vote

  • A group of ranchers, cattlemen’s organizations, and 25 livestock auction markets are currently working to collect signatures for a formal petition requesting a referendum on the Beef Checkoff Program.
  • USDA recently posted a letter to petitioners on their website which included a guidance document and cautioned petitioners about using questionable means to collect signatures.
  • According to Deputy Administrator Jennifer Porter, Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has provided evidence that indicated producers will be entered into a drawing to win $100 in exchange for sharing a post that encourages signing the petition.
  • Porter explained that these actions call into question the validity and integrity of the signature collection process and because of this, the USDA will apply additional scrutiny during the verification and validation process.
  • The success of the petition not only lies in gathering the required number of signatures, but also maintaining the integrity of the process, said Porter.
  • NCBA president Marty Smith, a Florida cattle producer, said that NCBA fully supports the producers’ right to have a voice regarding the future of the checkoff.
    • However, Smith feels that the signature gathering process needs to be transparent and conducted with integrity.
    • If enough producers sign the petition, then an up or down vote on the program needs to occur. He has confidence that enough producers will vote in favor of the checkoff and the industry can finally put this issue in the rear view mirror.


A few farmers get huge USDA relief payments while many struggle for pennies

  • In its first round of Covid-19 relief funding, Congress allocated funding for agriculture through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP.)
    • This program was set to pay out $16 billion in direct payments to farmers and livestock producers who suffered income losses due to Covid-19. After this basic detail, Congress left the rest of the program design up to the USDA.
    • As of last week, $6.5 billion had been distributed to ag producers.
    • The largest portion of these funds went to cattle, milk, corn, and hog producers.
  • According to Eric Deebly, policy director for the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, Congress disbursed the CFAP funds with minimal strings attached.
    • Payments are capped at $250,000 per individual, or $750,000 for farms owned by corporations.
  • The Counter performed an analysis of payments from late May to late June and found that at least five farms collected single payments of more than $750,000. The highest payment of $1.4 million went to Titan Swine. The company also received two additional CFAP checks totaling an added $1.1 million on the same day.
  • It was also found that multiple entities registered to the same business address received payments totaling more than $1 million.
    • Many of these entities were also receiving loans from the Payroll Protection Program (PPP.)
      • Five dairies registered to the same P.O. box in Georgia received direct payments totaling $1.57 million from CFAP, and on top of that they were also receiving PPP loans.
    • These situations have shown that Covid-19 relief doesn’t always go to those in need; instead it lands in the hands of businesses with savvy accountants.
    • A handful of farmers received hundreds of thousands of dollars, while more than 300 received less than $10 and some did not benefit at all from the program.


Boxed beef prices

Choice boxed beef: $204.24 (-0.42)

Select boxed beef: $190.45 (+0.05)

Current Cattle Markets Daily Headlines for Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Company to open beef processing facility in south-central Idaho

  • Agri Beef announced on Friday that it will be opening a new processing plant in Jerome, Idaho. The plant will operate as True West Beef.
    • This plant will employ 400 workers.
    • The plant will be able to process 500 cattle per day.
  • This new processing plant will work directly with livestock producers who will have an equity ownership in the facility.
  • Agri Beef already owns a mid-sized processing plant in Washington and has operated feedlots throughout Idaho since 1968.
  • The company feels that Jerome, ID is just the right location with plentiful agricultural resources, motivated workforce, and a vibrant community with a “can-do spirit.”


NCBA: Unanimous policy allows for voluntary negotiated trade before seeking regulatory action

  • Six hours of discussion at NCBA’s summer business meeting, with months of Zoom meetings held prior to that, ended with the industry group supporting a voluntary policy approach that increases frequent and transparent negotiated trade to regionally sufficient levels, to achieve robust price discovery determined by NCBA funded and directed research. The policy also includes triggers to be determined by a working group of NCBA producer leaders by October 1st, 2020.
  • If this proposed voluntary approach does not achieve robust price discovery and meet the established triggers that increase frequent and transparent negotiated trade to a regionally sufficient level, NCBA will pursue a legislative or regulatory solution.
  • Ethan Lane, NCBA Vice President of Government Affairs, said that NCBA is unanimously passing policy that says if it doesn’t work, they’re going to the Hill. The organization plans to seek another solution if it comes down to it.
  • NCBA’s research and data has shown that a certain level of mandated negotiated cash trade won’t work across the nation; regional differences must be respected.
  • Lane feels that every viewpoint was represented at the meeting. He stated that NCBA has policy opposing the restriction of producers to market their cattle as they see fit. One proposed solution goes further than many producers seem to be comfortable with, but doing nothing is something all producers are against.


Boxed beef prices

Choice boxed beef: $204.66 (+1.40)

Select boxed beef: $190.40 (+0.51)

Current Cattle Markets Daily Headlines for Monday, August 3, 2020

Groups want FTC investigation of Tyson

  • Two non-profit groups, Food and Water Watch and workers’ rights group Venceremos, are asking the Federal Trade commission to investigate Tyson Foods’ public representations about its labor practices.
    • The two groups claim that Tyson has made “false and misleading” depictions on its website, social media and company reports.
  • The groups have asked the FTC to require Tyson to remove misleading claims.
    • According to the complaint, one of the misleading claims states that the company provides safe workplaces and sources chicken from independent family farms.
  • Consumers are becoming more aware of how their food is produced and the ethical treatment of workers within food production, and companies like Tyson have taken note, said the complaint.
  • Tyson is now working to capitalize on consumer values by making deceptive claims about the treatment of their workers and the fair treatment of their contract poultry growers.
    • Tyson advertises that it provides a safe workplace for workers and sources chicken from independent family farms. Both of which are misleading to consumers, said the complaint.


38,000 pounds of ground beef has been recalled over lack of inspection in the U.S.

  • JBS Food Canada has recalled approximately 38,406 lbs. of beef products because they were not presented for import re-inspection into the U.S.
  • According to the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), these products arrived as boneless beef head meat and were imported on July 13th.
    • Another company then further processed this beef into ground beef products.
  • So far, there has been no reported illnesses or adverse effects in connection with this recall; nonetheless, FSIS has designated these items as having a high health risk.
  • This recall comes on the heels of a similar recall by Jamaican Tastee Patties, LLC that recalled 60,000 lbs. of meat and poultry patty products.
    • These products were repackaged, relabeled and redistributed without being federally inspected. A mark of inspection by another federal establishment was added to these products without proper approval.


United Nations deletes ‘disgraceful’ meat tweet, and should now explain why, says Cattle Council of Australia;

  • Last week, the United Nations tweeted to its 12.7 million followers to “act now” and “eat less meat” because it claimed, “the meat industry is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than the world’s biggest oil companies.”
  • Cattle industry groups responded with outrage and Australia’s Federal Agriculture Minister labeled the tweet as disgraceful.
  • Not long after the tweet was posted, the UN removed the content.
  • Travis Tobin, CEO of Cattle Council of Australia, feels that the UN needs to take it upon themselves and explain why the tweet was inaccurate.


Boxed beef prices;

  • Choice boxed beef: $203.26 (+1.46)
  • Select boxed beef: $189.89 (-1.61)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for Friday, July 31, 2020

NCBA passes policy to increase cash trade levels

  • According to Matt Deppe, CEO of the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association, NCBA and its members unanimously passed policy that supports voluntary efforts to improve cash fed cattle trade.
  • The policy isn’t exactly what Iowa Cattlemen was looking for, but Deppe says it puts a tangible plan in place.
  • NCBA’s policy will pursue a voluntary path to achieve a robust market, however if that fails, a regularity and/or legislative solution will be explored.


Nebraska Cattlemen’s president is satisfied with compromise on cash trade issues

  • Nebraska Cattlemen’s president Ken Herz says that he is satisfied with the compromise that was reached at NCBA’s summer meeting concerning cash trade.
  • Herz thinks that the policy creates a process to determine if the industry can achieve robust price discovery on a voluntary basis.
  • Nebraska Cattlemen has members on both sides of this issue, however Herz feels that this policy should appease NC’s membership.


R-CALF USA supports request for immediate moratorium on JBS acquisition of lamb processing facility

  • Fifteen U.S. senators have signed on to a letter requesting an investigation by the Department of Justice into the acquisition of Mountain States Rosen (MSR) lamb processing facility by JBS. R-CALF fully supports this request.
  • The letter notes that the MSR facility processes approximately 350,000 lambs annually, over 6,000 per week, with an annual capacity of nearly 800,000. JBS’ acquisition of this independent processing facility would risk economic ruin for many domestic producers and would enable JBS to congest the processing pipeline.
  • If this acquisition goes through it will further intensify the national food security problem that Covid-19 has exposed. Significant control of U.S. lamb processing capacity would be given to a foreign company whose interests are served by imports of foreign protein into the U.S.


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $201.80 (+0.69)
  • Select boxed beef: $191.50 (+2.01)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for Thursday, July 30, 2020

JBS acquires Mountain States Rosen lamb plant: Ranchers seek anti-trust intervention

  • Sheep producers nationwide are wondering whether they will get their lambs sold this fall due to an impending purchase of Mountain States Rosen lamb processing facility. JBS recently acquired the plant through a bankruptcy auction.
    • The meat giant plans to halt lamb processing and instead use the plant to grind hamburger and cut steaks.
      • This will cause the lamb industry to have a surplus of about 350,000 more lambs than available processing capacity.
    • Carson Jorgensen raises sheep in central Utah with his family. He believes this situation that lamb producers are facing is dire enough to call for President Trumps attention.
      • “Without immediate action, lamb production in the Western U.S. will be destroyed,” said Jorgensen.
    • Jorgensen believes JBS is violating anti-trust laws by purchasing the plant and halting a significant amount of lamb processing. He feels that JBS is coming after the lamb market and has made this acquisition to take the market share and fill it with imports.
    • Brad Boner, Glenrock, WY sheep rancher, thinks JBS only wants to manipulate the lamb market. The meat giant is the largest lamb importer in the U.S., and this acquisition will give them even more market share to use for imported product.
    • Jorgensen is pleading with agricultural producers across the U.S. to join him in asking the DOJ to look into anti-trust violations.


Fed cattle exchange acquired by Central Stockyards, LLC

  • The only weekly fed cattle online auction for the cattle industry, The Fed Cattle Exchange, has been acquired by Central Stockyards, LLC from 5150 Productions Company, LLC.
  • Since 2016, the Fed Cattle exchange provided the industry with a platform for price discovery through competitive bidding. These prices benefitted the entire cattle industry and livestock futures markets by providing a transparent baseline price for weekly negotiated live cattle futures.
  • Forrest Roberts, President and CEO of Central Stockyards, stated that his company’s plan is to use technical innovations to adapt to immediate industry needs, thus improving the Fed Cattle Exchange.
  • Director of Operations for Central Stockyards, Surcy Peoples, said that the company will be bringing new marketing methods to the cattle industry that support the benefits of negotiated trade and reward value creation.

Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $201.11 (-1.85)
  • Select boxed beef: $189.49 (-1.17)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for Wednesday, July 28, 2020

Utah rancher asks Mike Pence to prevent a crisis for lamb producers in the west

  • Carson Jorgensen, a sixth-generation sheep rancher located in Mt. Pleasant, UT, is seeking intervention from the Trump administration and help from the Utah congressional delegation to stop the pending closure of Mountain States-Rosen lamb processing plant located in Greeley, CO.
    • This plant processes more than 300,000 lambs from 15 western states.
  • According to Jorgensen, his family and fellow ranch families will be forced out of business and their herds will not be replaced if intervention doesn’t occur. The U.S. lamb market will be forced to exclusively rely on more and more foreign products, foreign imports and foreign supply chains.
  • Jorgensen’s letter was prompted by the bankruptcy acquisition of Mountain States-Rosen by JBS.
  • JBS says it will no longer process lambs at the Mountain States plant, and will instead only process beef.
    • Switching from lamb to beef would leave tens of thousands of lambs that are ready for slaughter stranded in feedlots, and hundreds of thousands of lambs that will be coming off summer ranges.
      • The few lamb plants that are left in the U.S. are currently running at capacity and small, local plants won’t ever be able to handle the volume.
    • A large part of the U.S. meat industry is controlled by a handful of companies, and the lamb industry is no exception. Their foreign competitors repeatedly undercut lamb producers.
    • Jorgensen feels that this latest acquisition by JBS needs to be investigated to see if it is a predatory effort to disrupt U.S. food production.


Where are the cattle?

  • The cattle on feed report released last Friday was fairly neutral, however, producers are still wondering where are all the cattle.
  • Earlier this spring, cattle placements were scarce, the lowest the industry has seen since 1996 when the series first began.
    • March’s placements were down 23 percent.
    • April’s placements were down 22 percent.
    • May’s placements were up 1 percent.
    • June’s placements were up 2 percent.
  • It’s obvious that deficits of 23 and 22 percent can’t be offset by minimal one and two percent increases.
  • These numbers make it clear that there are still a significant amount of cattle out in the countryside yet to be placed.
  • This situation has shifted how cattle are marketed and the cattle marketing calendar that we are accustomed to will look a bit different for the second half of 2020.


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $202.96 (+0.41)
  • Select boxed beef: $188.32 (-1.81)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for Tuesday, July 28, 2020

JBS acquires assets, facilities from closure of Greeley Mountain States Rosen plant

  • Mountain States Rosen, a Wyoming-based cooperative of lamb producers in the U.S., will be closing its Greeley plant by the end of July.
    • All 212 employees will be laid off and all operations will cease by the end of July, according to Cindy Hasbrouck, Mountain States Rosen Vice President Human Resources.
    • The company controls a fifth of the U.S. lamb market.
  • The company’s facilities and certain assets were acquired by JBS USA whose Greeley beef processing plant sits just across the street from the Mountain States plant.
  • Mountain States Rosen sent a letter to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment in June explaining that the sale of the building was the result of Chapter 11 bankruptcy. JBS successfully bid for the facility during a bankruptcy auction on July 16th.
  • According to Cameron Bruett, head of corporate affairs for JBS USA and Pilgrim’s Pride, JBS plans to invest in the facility and reopen as a value-added beef operation that will create new jobs in Greeley. He feels that the acquisition presents an exciting opportunity to provide value-added and premium, retail ready beef products to consumers in Colorado and across the U.S.


Walmart, Kroger bottle their own milk and shake up American dairy industry

  • When buying milk, Americans often reach for the lowest-priced option, store brand milk. Kroger, Walmart, and Albertsons will be expanding those offerings with their new milk-bottling plants.
  • The $40 billion U.S. milk industry has been dealing with pressure by consumers choosing dairy alternatives or other beverage options, such as bottle water and juice. With grocers’ now moving into the bottling business, the industry will face even more profit reduction.
  • Just in 2019, approximately 3,300 dairy-cow herds disappeared. These disappearances came along with low milk prices, tensions with export customers and processing plant closures across the country.
  • Dairy demand for products such as yogurt, butter and chesse, continues to grow. However the annual per capita U.S. milk consumption has dropped about 40% in the past four decades.
  • Dean Foods was one of Wal-Mart’s biggest milk suppliers for decades.
    • Its Louisville plant was processing as much as 1.2 million gallons of milk a week, 70 percent of that going to 130 Wal-Mart stores in four states.
    • Whether it be a snowstorm or some other issue, they always made sure to supply Wal-Mart before other customers.
  • In 2016, Walmart announced that they would build a milk-processing plant of its own in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
    • Dean executives projected the move would siphon away about 100 million of the 2.6 billion gallons a year it sold.
  • One year after Walmart finished the plant, Dean’s volume of its DairyPure milk sold down by an estimated 7.5 percent.
    • This situation caused Dean to terminate contracts with dairy farmers due to the decline in sales.
    • Joe Kelsay, a sixth generation Indiana farmer was one of those farms that had their contract terminated. He searched for somewhere else to send his milk, but had no luck. By the spring of 2019, Mr. Kelsay had sold his herd and the last of their milking equipment.
      • My Kelsay said he lost part of his identity when his herd was loaded onto trucks. “We cried as we watched the cows,” he said. “It was like a death in the family. You had to choose to stop life support.”


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $202.55 (+0.78)
  • Select boxed beef: $190.13 (-0.50)

Current Cattle Markets Daily Headlines for Monday July 27, 2020

JBS Australia accused of asking Covid-19 positive staff to return to work

  • JBS Australia has been accused of allegedly asking staff that tested positive for Covid-19 to return to work at a plant in Brooklyn, Melbourne.
    • The meat processor has also been accused of breaching other virus restrictions.
  • The United Workers Union has serious concerns over the company’s handling of safety during the pandemic.
    • Reports of overcrowding in the locker rooms.
    • Little regard for social distancing.
    • The use of faulty electronic thermometers.
  • JBS Australia has tested workers onsite in Brooklyn, however UWU has concerns regarding the management’s commitment to safety.
  • UWU has criticized JBS for not supporting their affected workers with paid pandemic leave, leaving those employees in a tough financial situation.


KFC to test 3D-printed chicken nuggets this fall

  • Last year, KFC introduced plant-based chicken nuggets. They have stepped up their food innovation by launching the development of innovative 3D Bioprinting Solutions research labs based in Moscow, Russia.
  • The goal with this research lab is to create the world’s first laboratory-produced chicken nuggets using chicken cells and plant material.
  • KFC stated that this product is being created because of a growing popularity of a healthy lifestyle and nutrition. They feel the need to develop more environmentally friendly methods of food production.
  • KFC plans to have a final product ready for testing this fall in Moscow. It will first be available to people in Russia, and one day the company hopes to serve it around the world.


Cattle on feed report

  • Placements: 1.8 million hd., up 2 percent from 2019.
  • Marketings: 1.97 million hd., up 1 percent from 2019
  • Cattle on feed as of July 1st: 11.4 million hd., down 42,000 hd. compared to 2019.
    • This is the second highest July 1st inventory since the series began in 1996.


Boxed beef prices and estimated weekly meat production

  • Choice boxed beef: $201.77 (-0.49)
  • Select boxed beef: $190.63 (-0.16)
  • Weekly beef production: 537.3 million pounds, down 0.2 percent from last week, up 2.2 percent from last year.
  • Weekly cattle slaughter: 646,000 hd., down 0.6 percent from last week, down 0.9 percent from last year.
  • Weekly red meat production: 1.09 billion pounds, up 1.1 percent from last week, up 6.8 percent from last year.
  • Live cattle weights: 1,369 lbs., up 3 lbs. from last week, up 40 lbs. from last year.

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for Friday, July 24, 2020

Burger King wins dismissal of vegans’ lawsuit over Impossible Whopper

  • On Monday, a federal judge in Florida dismissed a lawsuit against Burger King accusing the fast food chain of deceiving vegan, vegetarian, and other customers into thinking it cooked Impossible Whopper patties on a different grill than the one used to cook beef and chicken.
  • S. District Judge Raag Singhal said the seven plaintiffs did not show that reasonable consumers were deceived into paying higher prices because of Burger King’s actual cooking methods.
    • He said that the plaintiffs did not ask about Burger King’s cooking methods or request that their food be cooked an alternative way to satisfy their diet restrictions.
    • He went on to say that the company’s advertising never promised the Impossible Whopper would be cooked on a different surface from beef and chicken.


Burger King ditches TV ad, asks leading extension scientist for help

  • Last week, Burger King debuted it’s latest commercial touting the use of lemongrass in cows’ diets to reduce methane emissions by “up to 33 percent.”
  • Frank Mitloehner, University of California-Davis air quality Extension specialist, department of animal science, said it is good that Burger King wants to reduce methane and their environmental impact. Nonetheless, much of the information included in the commercial was false.
    • Mitloehner set the record straight on AgritTalk with Chip Flory reminding folks that U.S. beef production contributes 3 percent of all greenhouse gases, while fossil fuel use and production contribute 80 percent of greenhouse gas to the environment. He also sent out a tweet that included facts.
    • He said that Burger King’s messaging was premature as there have only been two cited studies regarding lemongrass.
      • One study by UC Davis was inconclusive.
      • Another was conducted at the Autonomous University of Mexico, and has yet to be published.
    • After seeing Mitloehner’s response to their commercial, Burger King reached out to him.
      • Mitloehner educated Burger King on the facts and they took content out of their commercial that was demeaning to farmers. They also pulled the content from all TV stations.
    • Burger King will be working with Mitloehner in the future to infuse science-based research and to make sure their facts are correct before their ads are released.


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $202.26 (+1.11)
  • Select boxed beef: $190.79 (+1.51)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for Thursday July 23, 2020

USDA publishes cattle and beef pricing report

  • Yesterday, July 22nd, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released their report on cattle and beef pricing resulting from the Tyson plant fire in Holcomb, KS back in August of 2019 and the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic.
  • The 21-page report essentially shares the prices of boxed beef and fed cattle throughout the two events. The report specifically states that findings so far do not prelude the possibility that individual or groups of entities violated the Packers and Stockyards Act.
  • The North American Meat Institute responded to the news by saying, “The report, which identifies no wrong-doing, affirms that two extreme and unforeseen events affected the beef markets.”
    • NAMI also included a link to Stephen Koontz’s report regarding the situation. Koontz’s report explained that record-low livestock prices came as no surprise with packers cutting back their kill levels and an abundant supply of cattle.
  • NCBA’s Vice President of Government Affairs Ethan Lane reported that the NCBA was pleased that the USDA produced a report into the market dynamics impacting cattle producers.
    • Lane said that the issue of packer wrong-doing has been a central topic of conversation for NCBA since they initially requested the investigation.
  • Senator Chuck Grassley feels that the industry must continue to investigate anticompetitive actions by corporate packers who value profits over the economic livelihoods of farmers, ranchers and rural America.


Unpublished USDA Report: 40% cash volume depressed cattle prices more than $33 per head

  • An unpublished 2014 report by the Packers and Stockyards Division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture has shown that when the volume in the fed cattle cash market was nearly 40 percent, that alternative marketing agreements depressed the prices paid for cattle on the cash market in 2009.
  • The report estimates that nationwide domestic cattle prices in the cash market were reduced by as much as $33.28 per head (based on a 1,300 lb. steer.)
    • Every one percent increase in captive supply cattle depressed negotiated cash prices $0.54 per head for a 1,300 lb. steer on average.
  • R-CALF CEO Bill Bullard said that this report firmly supports the need for Senator Grassley and Senator Tester’s Senate Bill, along with Cindy Axne’s House Bill 7501 that would require packers to participate in the negotiated cash market at least at the 50 percent level.
  • Bullard feels that the key takeaway for policy makers is that producers who market in the negotiated cash market are being harmed and the majority of those producers are the small to mid-sized cattle feeders that support America’s rural economy.


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $201.15 (+0.27)
  • Select boxed beef: $189.28 (-2.02)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for Wednesday, July 22, 2020

China reports skin disease outbreaks in cattle due to virus

  • China is facing outbreaks of a debilitating virus in cattle that causes a condition called ‘lumpy skin disease.’
  • According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, five cases were found during June in the southern provinces of Guangdong and Fujian and the eastern provinces of Jiangxi and Anhui.
  • “The local area has effectively dealt with this epidemic,” reported the ministry. Two cattle have died from the disease since its discovery.
  • Lumpy skin disease does not affect people. Flies or mosquitoes, causing nodules to form on the skin, spread it. Symptoms include lower milk production and it is rarely fatal.
  • Taiwan has also reported its first case of the disease this month.


World’s biggest meatpacker JBS bought illegally grazed Amazon cattle

  • According to a new report published by Amnesty International, Brazil’s JBS contributed to human rights and environmental abuses in the country’s Amazon region last year by buying cattle that were illegally grazed on an indigenous reserve, as well as in two other protected rainforest areas.
  • The report states that JBS bought cattle illegally reared on the Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau Indigenous Reserve and the Rio Jacy-Parana and Rio Ouro Preto extractive reserves.
    • These areas were the epicenter of last year’s Amazon fires and a hotbed of Brazilian Amazon deforestation.
  • Satellite images gathered in the first five months of 2020 have shown that in cleared areas there have been cattle present.
  • The report is accusing JBS of cattle laundering on newly deforested conserved lands, and then later transferring those cattle to legal ranches before selling those cattle to slaughterhouses.
  • Richard Pearshouse, the report’s author, feels that the findings are “the tip of the iceberg.” He feels that the Brazilian government needs to do its part by establishing strong monitoring and enforcement of laws.
  • JBS responded to the report by saying that they do not purchase cattle from any farm involved in illegal grazing within protected areas.


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $200.88 (-0.86)
  • Select boxed beef: $191.30 (-0.29)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Ethiopian farmers slaughter thousands of chicks as Covid hits demand

  • Hundreds of thousands of chicks have been destroyed by Ethiopian farmers as the poultry sector deals with a collapse in the hotel industry due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Covid-19 has caused hotels in Addis Ababa to reduce their operations or even close. These hotels are a major source of demand for poultry products.
  • One of the biggest suppliers of poultry products in Addis Ababa, EthioChicken, reported that it has killed nearly 650,000 chicks in five weeks over May and June and estimates millions more have been destroyed country-wide.
  • The company also stated that they have pulled some eggs from their hatchery to destroy instead of chicks.
  • The social consequences of the poultry industry disruption is far reaching.
    • Mena Gabriel Estifanos, a veterinarian, said the industry employs a vast group of society in different regions of the country. Since thousands upon thousands of chicks have been destroyed, those working in the industry have found themselves with no work to do.


USDA announces improvements to the Livestock Gross Margin Insurance program for cattle and swine–Insurance-Program-for-Cattle-and-Swine

  • USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) announced yesterday that changes to the Livestock Gross Margin (LGM) insurance program for cattle and swine will begin in the 2021 crop year.
    • These changes include adding premium subsidies to assist producers and moving premium due dates to the end of the endorsement period for cattle.
  • RMA administrator Marin Barbre, said that these changes build upon RMA’s continued effort to make livestock policies more affordable and accessible to livestock producers.
  • Prior to these changes, LGM-Cattle and Swine did not have premium subsidies.
    • LGM-Cattle will now have a subsidy that ranges from 18 percent with 0 deductible up to 50 percent with a deductible of $70 or greater.
    • LGM-Swine will now have a subsidy that ranges from 18 percent with 0 deductible up to 50 percent with a deductible of $12 or greater.


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $201.74 (+1.27)
  • Select boxed beef: $191.59 (+1.28)

Current Cattle Markets Daily Headlines for Monday July 20, 2020

Large backlog of cattle remain

  • According to Len Steiner with Steiner Consulting Group, the number of cattle on feed 150-days or more on July 1st will be about 950,000 head.
    • If this number is accurate, that means the industry has only reduced the 150-day cattle by 30,000 head from June 1st.
  • The Cattle on Feed report comes out this Friday, and if Steiner’s 950,000 head estimate is correct, it would be a 40% increase over the same month a year ago.
  • Last month’s Cattle on Feed report put the number of cattle with 150-days or more on feed at 971,000 head, a number that was 42% higher than the same month in 2019.
  • Steiner estimates June slaughter to be up 0.8 percent but July slaughter will be down 0.5 percent due to one fewer slaughter days.
  • Earlier this month, the USDA reported the average carcass weight 35 lbs. heavier than a year ago. This is equivalent to 21,000 more fed cattle coming to market this year compared to last.
  • The average retail beef price in June was estimated at $7.56/lb., slightly less than May but still 23% higher than year ago prices.


Meat-eating boosts muscle health better than plant-based diet as we age, new study suggests

  • A new study coming out of the United Kingdom has show that plant-based proteins will not boost muscle health as much as eating meat as we get older.
  • The number of vegans in the UK has tripled since 2006. Many have went vegan for health purposes, animal welfare or environmental reasons.
  • The study found that transitioning from an animal-based protein diet to a plant-based diet is likely to be detrimental to muscle health as we age.
    • Muscles must be kept strong by amino acids that can be found in animal proteins.


Boxed beef prices and market update

  • Choice boxed beef: $ 200.47 (-0.33)
  • Select boxed beef: $190.31 (-0.99)
  • For the first time this year, over 50 percent of the country is in some kind of drought designation. This hasn’t occurred since the week ending September 18th, 2018 when the country was coming off a historical drought.
  • Weekly cattle slaughter was reported at 650,000 hd., down 1.1 percent from the previous week and down 0.8 percent from last year.
  • Weekly live cattle weights were reported at 1,366 lbs., up 36 lbs. from last year.

Current Cattle Markets Daily Headlines for Friday, July 17, 2020

Is the future of meat in America at stake?

  • Earlier this week, ABC’s Matt Gutman reported on ranchers struggling to make a living as they work to compete with cheap imported beef and alternative meat products.
  • According to ABC, changing consumer’s tastes and concerns regarding their carbon footprint is threatening the cattle industry.
  • During this feature, Gutman toured an Impossible Foods factory in Oakland, CA where soybeans are transformed into a fake meat alternative that he claimed tastes “identical to beef.”
  • The rise of alternative meat demand is partially because of the coronavirus pandemic and also the increased scrutiny of conditions inside slaughterhouses for workers and the animals, according to Pat Brown with Impossible Foods.
    • Meat alternative demand increased 248% in the first twelve weeks of this year.
  • According to Brown, if you replace one pound of cow beef with one pound of impossible beef, you reduce your greenhouse gas footprint by the equivalent of the average daily commute, 36 miles in a typical American car, or 92 miles flying in a passenger jet.
  • Some researchers are worried about how incredibly processed alternative meats are. Typically, ultra processed foods are worse for a person’s diet, versus whole foods such as beef.
  • Impossible Foods boasts that its carbon footprint is 89% less than that of a real beef burger.
  • According to Bill Bullard, ranchers have been stewards of the land and have cared for their land, air, and water for centuries.
  • Pat brown stated that he’s not after the ranchers, but instead the beef industrial complex. He wants to kill the meat industry the old fashioned way through fair competition in the free market.


Beyond Meat’s international push continues in Brazil

  • Beyond Meat has expanded its international presence as it has broken into the Brazilian marketplace, the largest economy in South America.
  • Beyond Burgers, Beyond Sausage, and Beyond Beef is now available in Sao Paulo at a grocery chain called St. Marche.
    • Marche is a relatively small grocery chain with only 19 locations, however it is still a new market for the product.
  • Brazil is the third largest consumer of beef in the world and is the largest exporter of beef.
  • Beyond Meats CEO, Ethan Brown, claims the company is looking to pursue numerous activities internationally this year.
  • Earlier in 2020, Beyond Meat entered China via a partnership with Starbucks. The company was also able to expand into grocery stores and got on the menu at restaurants owned by Yum China Holdings.


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $200.80 (+0.04)
  • Select boxed beef: $191.30 (-0.07)

Current Cattle Markets Daily Headlines for Thursday, July 16, 2020

Worker advocates: JBS trying to force union’s hand with long-term contract offer

  • Worker advocates are reporting that JBS is trying to work around the union that represents about 3,000 of its Greeley beef plant workers by lobbying employees directly on a long-term contract.
  • According to Kim Cordova, if workers are persuaded to push the union to vote on the near-term pay raise, it would mean a five-year contract that would cost employees more in the long term.
    • Essentially, JBS is attempting to con workers directly into a bad salary deal at a particularly vulnerable time.
  • Latino Coalition of Weld County vice president Rhonda Solis, said a concerning element that came out of discussions with JBS on Monday was the company’s plans to provide an onside medical clinic for employees.
    • Solis stated that when the coronavirus outbreak hit back in late March and early April, the union and herself were only made aware of the high number of cases coming out of the processing facility because the hospital made calls and voiced their concerns.
    • If JBS has a clinic within the facility, they will have the ability to keep even more information hushed about the wellbeing of their employees when it comes to coronavirus infections.
  • Whether JBS meant to conceal the extent and speed of the spread of the virus in late March and early April from its employees and the outside world isn’t clear. Either way, it did take county and state involvement to require a temporary closure.
  • During the meeting with JBS on Monday, union members told horrific stories about the current conditions at the plant with included a continuation of the ‘work while sick culture’, workers being forced to drink water from unsanitary sources, a female worker being physically assaulted by a supervior, just to name a few, according to Cordova.
  • “Nothing is holding JBS back from paying their workers more right now,” said Solis. She went on to say they were doing it with hazard pay originally, but they took that away. JBS is presenting the situation as the union standing in the way of workers receiving an increase in wages.


USDA revives RFID initiative

  • USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced earlier this week that is seeking public comment on a proposal to approve only Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags for cattle moving interstate.
  • Last November, APHIS released a statement saying that they believe RFID devices will provide the cattle industry with the best protection against the rapid spread of animal diseases. The tags will also meet the expectations of foreign and domestic buyers.
  • APHIS is seeking comment on a proposed timeline for implementation, which would require producers to use the tags by January 1st, 2023.
    • Animals with metal tags in place before that date would be grandfathered into the regulations and would not require RFID tags.
  • USDA’s announcement came with opposition by R-CALF. RCALF’s Animal Identification Committee Chair Kenny Fox said that this is not the time for the USDA to be imposing significant added production costs on the U.S. cattle industry while the entire domestic cattle and beef supply chains are reeling from the effects of the pandemic.


Boxed Beef Prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $200.76 (-0.16)
  • Select boxed beef: $191.37 (+0.52)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Union president says JBS workers are scared to go to work amid outbreak at meatpacking plants

  • Three months after the JBS plant in Greeley was forced to shut down due to a coronavirus outbreak and less than a week after an unscheduled employee walkout, talks between the workers union and management broke down on Monday.
  • Kim Cordova, president of UFCW7, the union that represents JBS employees, said that JBS will not listen to workers safety concerns even though workers at the JBS Greeley plant work in some of the most dangerous conditions in the entire country.
  • According to Sylvia Martinez, a spokesperson for a group that also represents JBS employees, a miscommunication between JBS and the supervisors within the plant is occurring. Workers are told to stay home if they are sick, but within the plant, if a worker calls in sick, they are being threatened that they better report to work or they will lose their job.
  • Cordova said that eight hours of talks with JBS management ended with no significant progress. She went on to say that she is furious with the company not showing workers the respect they deserve and she isn’t sure where the situation goes from here.
  • After the talks on Monday, JBS released a statement saying they have offered their workers a competitive base wage rate of $18.00/hr. with a top wage rate of nearly $25.00/hr. The local union has refused to present this offer to JBS Greeley employees, costing them thousands of dollars in lost wages.


Burger King’s climate solution is a limited supply whopper

  • Burger King is planning to sell Whoppers sourced from cows that belch out less methane as the fast-food industry grapples with a questionable sustainability record.
  • Burger King plans to debut a limited-time sandwich on Tuesday made from cattle raised on a diet supplemented with lemongrass. This supplementation is expected to cut greenhouse gas emissions from cattle by about a third.
    • This burger will be available on menus at select stores in Miami, New York, Austin, Portland, and Los Angeles while supplies last.
  • The actual sale of low-methane beef across a fast-food empire will require suppliers and retailers to pay a significantly higher price for the product.


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $200.92 (-2.34)
  • Select boxed beef: $190.85 (-1.03)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for Tuesday July 14, 2020

JBS workers in Greeley walk out of work amid pay dispute

  • The JBS plant in Greeley, CO has confirmed 287 coronavirus cases and has had six employees die from Covid-19 since April, making it the deadliest work site in Colorado.
  • On Friday, workers walked out of the processing facility due to a pay dispute.
  • JBS corporate released a statement saying that workers at other facilities across the country have received an increase in base pay to $18/hr, with top rates of $25/hr. However, the local union that represents Greeley employees has not presented this pay increase to its members.
  • According to Kim Cordova, the president of the UFCW Local 7 union, JBS confiscated employee badges from hundreds of workers and sent them home, even those that did not participate in the walkout on Friday. Cordova stated that this action appears to be an attempt by JBS to strong-arm its employees into accepting a less competitive wage increase that would lock them into a five-year agreement, with little to no chance for any further wage increases.


Worker advocates file meat plants discrimination complaint

  • Numerous worker advocacy organizations have filed a civil rights complaint with the USDA alleging that Tyson and JBS have engaged in racial discrimination throughout the pandemic.
  • The complaint claims that the meat processing companies adopted policies that violate a section of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which protects individuals from racial discrimination by recipients of federal financial assistance.
    • Tyson has received more than $109 million from USDA programs this year and JBS has received $45 million. Since they receive these taxpayer dollars, they are required to comply with federal laws.
  • Since the onset of coronavirus back in March, 291 processing plants have seen 32,151 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 122 workers have died, stated the complaint.
  • Tyson spokesman, Worth Sparkman said in an email that the company’s top priority is the health and safety of all workers, their families and the communities where plants are located.
  • JBS spokesman, Cameron Bruett claims the company has followed, and often exceeded, CDC guidance.
  • Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue will be the deciding factor on how this complaint will be resolved.


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $203.26 (-1.24)
  • Select boxed beef: $191.88 (-2.41)

Current Cattle Markets Daily Headlines for Monday, July 13, 2020

Tyson turns to robot butchers, spurred by coronavirus outbreaks

  • Tyson Foods relies on about 122,000 employees to churn out about 1 in every 5 pounds of chicken, beef and pork produced in the U.S.
  • Tyson’s Manufacturing Automation Center was opened in August of 2019 and is working to move from human meat cutters to robotic butchers.
  • Over the past three years, Tyson has invested about $500 million in technology and automation.
  • An issue with robotic meat cutters is that they aren’t able to match humans’ ability to disassemble animal carcasses that subtly differ in size and shape.
  • Processing plant executives say that the biggest push to increase automation within packing plants stems from the decreased availability of labor in the U.S.
  • Meatpacking companies have tested automated cutting systems in recent years, with mixed results. Some of these projects were abandoned because of too much high-value meat being wasted.
  • According to union official Mark Lauritsen, boosting automation at U.S. meatpacking plants needs to be done thoughtfully so job losses won’t devastate the communities they sustain.


Bill would increase processor capacity

  • Small meat processors that have been impacted by the pandemic will be receiving more help through Requiring Assistance to Meat Processors for Upgrading Plants Act, also known as the RAMP-UP Act.
  • This bill will help meat processors make facility upgrades and move to federal inspection to sell across state lines.
  • As it stands today, state inspected and custom exempt processors are not able to sell meat across state lines and the process to become federally inspected can be quite costly.
  • The RAMP-UP Act would allow the secretary of agriculture to make grants to meat and poultry processing facilities for improvements to help become a federally inspected establishment.
  • Under this bill, grants could not exceed $100,000 and recipients must repay the amount in full if they do not become a federally inspected plant within 36 months.
  • The RAMP-UP Act would provide $80 million in direct funding to remain available until expended through fiscal year 2023. The bill will also authorize $20 million in discretionary funding should more funds be needed.


Boxed beef prices and red meat production

  • Choice boxed beef: $204.50 (+0.91)
  • Select boxed beef: $194.29 (-0.54)



Current Cattle Markets Daily Headlines for Friday, July 10, 2020

Polis appoints activist to vet board, signs egg bill

  • Colorado Governor Jared Polis has appointed Ellen Kessler to the public at large position on the State Board of Veterinary Medicine.
  • Kessler is a self-proclaimed animal rights activist. Her commentary on social media includes claims that she is “Vegan AF” and “Extreme. Annoying. Vegan.”
  • Kessler recently posted support of the signed HB 10-1343 Egg-laying Hen Confinement Standards. She feels this house bill is a baby step “to get to the true goal of animal lovers and that is to not keep chickens for eggs nor food.”
    • HB 10-1343 requires all eggs sold in the state of Colorado to come from a cage free environment.
  • Senator Jerry Sonnenberg is concerned with the bill restricting the sale of eggs from other states that do not meet the same standards, creating an interstate commerce violation. He worries that this bill may set up producers of all livestock for the same restrictions.
  • The cost for egg producers to make the shift to cage-free systems will be about $30 per hen. Colorado has a statewide flock numbering about 5.5 million.


Representatives Axne, Finkenauer, Loebsack introduce legislation to improve price transparency in cattle markets

  • Yesterday, Iowa Representatives Cindy Axne, Abby Finkenauer, and Dave Loebsack introduced legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives to increase transparency in U.S. cattle markets and spur added price discovery and competition for Iowa producers using cash markets.
  • This bill would require packers to purchase a minimum of 50% of their weekly slaughter from cash market sales. Increased cash market sales will give independent cattle producers a level playing field with formula-contracted cattle purchases.
  • Iowa Cattlemen’s Association President Richard Godrey feels that this proposal will help return some much-needed leverage to independent cattle producers across America.
  • This House bill is a companion to Senator Grassley’s 50/14 legislation he introduced earlier this year.


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $203.59 (-0.24)
  • Select boxed beef: $194.83 (-0.69)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines: Thursday July 9, 2020

Cattle industry launches petition calling for beef checkoff referendum

  • On July 2nd, several individual ranchers, farm and ranch groups, including R-CALF USA, formally launched a national petition requesting a nationwide referendum on the termination of the Beef Promotion and Research Order, also known as the Beef Checkoff Program.
  • The petition calls for the Secretary of Agriculture to conduct a referendum for an up or down vote on the termination of the Beef Checkoff Program.
  • The petition states that at least 88,269 eligible U.S. cattle producers are needed to sign the petition. Eligible producers can sign the petition from now until July 1st, 2021.
  • “This is the first step in reclaiming cattle producers’ independence from the government mandated beef checkoff program that has been taxing our industry to fund the government’s speech for over 30 years,” said R-CALF USA Checkoff Committee Chair Vaughn Meyer.


JBS USA to invest $4 million in Nebraska communities

  • JBS is investing $4 million in Nebraska to support local communities as part of its new “Hometown Strong” initiative.
  • This investment is part of a $120 million global social commitment, $50 million of which is dedicated to the United States.
  • Omaha and Grand Island will be receiving the investment as they both have JBS beef packing facilities.
  • The goal is to improve local infrastructure, alleviate food insecurity, and support coronavirus emergency response efforts among other projects.
  • JBS employs more than 4,300 people in Nebraska with an annual payroll of over $190 million.


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $ 203.83 (-1.47)
  • Select boxed beef: $ 195.52 (-1.32)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines: Wednesday July 8, 2020

Imports of feeder cattle: Mexican up, Canadian down

  • Through the first half of 2020, Mexican feeder cattle imports have increased 3 percent compared to 2019.
  • Canadian feeder cattle imports have decreased 50 percent through the first half of this year compared to 2019.
  • Mexican imports have been greatly impacted by drought as 32 percent of Mexico is dealing with severe drought conditions.
  • Imported feeder steer volumes are up 3.9 percent, while heifer imports are about even with year ago levels.


Slaughter cow prices bright spot for cattle industry

  • Covid-19 has brought uncertainty and trying times to all segments of the cattle industry, however the dynamics for the slaughter cow market have been a little different from the live cattle markets, according to Josh Maples, agricultural economist at Mississippi State University.
  • Slaughter cow prices have actually been one of the few bright spots through the pandemic.
  • Over the past six weeks, slaughter cow prices in the southern plains averaged $57.84/cwt, an increase of 19.5 percent compared to the same period in 2019.
  • Cull cow markets are directly related to ground beef demand and since the onset of Covid-19, retail sales of ground beef have increased significantly.
  • Beef cow slaughter year to date is up 2 percent, while dairy cow slaughter is down 2 percent.
  • Maples said that lower calf prices this fall could lead to increased beef cow culling. Rebounding milk prices will most likely prevent significant dairy cow culling through the remaining months of 2020.
  • “While the supply picture is becoming a little clearer, ground beef demand will continue to be key for support of beef cow cull prices,” said Maples.


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $205.30 (-0.16)
  • Select boxed beef: $196.84 (-0.13)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines: Tuesday July 7, 2020

U.S. trade groups urge China to increase purchases of U.S. goods, services

  • The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and over 40 trade associations have urged top American and Chinese officials to redouble efforts to implement a Phase 1 trade agreement.
  • The Phase 1 trade agreement called for China to purchase $200 billion in additional U.S. goods and services over the next two years. The agreement was signed in January.
  • Tensions between China and the U.S. spiked in recent months over the origin of the coronavirus outbreak and the passage of a new national security law that limits Hong Kong’s autonomy.
  • President Trump recently stated that “decoupling” the two economies remains an option.
  • Accelerated implementation of the trade deal would help both countries and it would also pave the way for Phase 2 talks.


Production disruptions slow May exports of beef, pork

  • During the month of May, coronavirus caused meatpacking facilities to slow production, and in turn exports of beef and pork were negatively impacted.
  • Beef exports fell 33% during the month of May compared to 2019, recording the lowest monthly volume in 10 years, according to the USDA and U.S. Meat Export Federation. The value of beef exports fell 34 percent.
  • Pork exports were actually 12 percent higher in the month of May compared to year ago levels, but down 13 percent compared to the monthly average for the first quarter of 2020.
  • Despite a challenging global economic outlook, USMEF President and CEO, Dan Halstrom thinks export volumes will recover quickly in most markets, as U.S. red meat remains an important staple for both domestic and international consumers.


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $205.46 (+0.02)
  • Select boxed beef: $196.97 (-1.79)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines: Monday July 6, 2020

China halts imports from two more Brazil meat plants amid Covid-19 concerns

  • China has suspended imports from two Brazilian pork plants owned by JBS and BRF. This suspension comes at a time when the country continues to have concerns of the coronavirus being transmitted through food.
  • Both processing plants are located in Brazil’s southern Rio Grande do Sul state.
  • Brazil is currently dealing with the second worst Covid-19 outbreak in the world, right behind the U.S.
  • China is the largest buyer of Brazilian pork, beef and chicken. The country has requested that all meat exporters globally certify their products are coronavirus free.
  • A total of six Brazilian meat-processing plants have now been blocked from exporting to China due to the rising concerns of Covid-19.


Peterson praises USMCA, but emphasizes problems with Canadian trade

  • Last week, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, said the implementation of USMCA is a positive for the U.S., however there are already problems because Canada is refusing to allow his constituents to drive through Canadian territory to get to a tiny piece of Minnesota that lies north of the 49th
  • On a Zoom event to celebrate the implementation of USMCA, Peterson said the U.S. must to be vigilant because there are signs out there of Mexico and Canada using Covid-19 to avoid some of its rules.
  • Representative Ron Kind of Wisconsin feels that USMCA “is not a cure-all” for U.S. trade problems. He thinks it would be best for the U.S. to find a way to get back into the Trans Pacific Partnership because so much of the growth in the world is in the Pacific.
  • Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa stated that Canada and Mexico are the two top agricultural trading partners for the U.S. There is more trade with Canada and Mexico than with the next 27 trading partners.

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines: Friday July 3, 2020

U.S. cattle futures rise as corn prices ease

  • On Thursday, cattle futures saw some significant gains with feeder cattle leading the way.
  • According to traders, Thursday’s feeder cattle rally was due in part to a slump in corn futures.
  • Corn futures have declined due to the USDA cutting U.S. corn acres earlier this week, forecasts of timely rainfall across parts of the U.S. Midwest, and news that federal proposals about biofuel requirements are being put on hold.
  • The CME August live cattle contract rallied as we continue to see packinghouses slowly work through the industry’s backlog of cattle, and futures rose into a positive basis over recent cash market prices.
  • CME August live cattle settled at $99.40, up $2.10. August feeder cattle ended the day at $134.87, up $1.80.


Deepening the cash pool for fed cattle

  • Cash trade in the fed cattle markets is essential for price discovery as it is typically the basis of alternative marketing arrangements, also known as formulas. Besides that, cash prices undoubtedly influence a wide array of beef and cattle markets.
  • Some within the industry are hoping to increase negotiated cash trade through a federal government mandate, specifically the 30-14 campaign that would make the packers compete for cattle.
  • According to Stephen Koontz of Colorado State University, this proposal would cost the cattle and beef industry millions and possibly billions of dollars per year. Koontz made that statement in an open letter to the NCBA after some of his research was being used in support of the 30-14 campaign.
  • Koontz says his research shows that cow-calf producers and the U.S. consumers are the main beneficiaries of formula contracts.
  • Most folks within the cattle industry agree that our industry needs more cash fed cattle trade to enhance price discovery. Koontz, along with NCBA and many of their state affiliates do not support a mandate of a given percentage of cash trade to increase competition within our cattle markets.


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $205.44 (+0.06)
  • Select boxed beef: $198.76 (+0.33)

Current Cattle Markets Daily Headlines: Thursday, July 2, 2020

USCA, NFU, and others request hearing on livestock reporting rule

  • On Wednesday, the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association, National Farmers Union (NFU), and eleven other organizations sent a letter to the Senate Agriculture Committee requesting a hearing on livestock mandatory price reporting reauthorization.
  • The Livestock Mandatory Reporting rule mandates price reporting for cattle, boxed beef, swine, and lamb. It is reauthorized every five years. The current program will be expiring on September 20th of this year, so the door is open for meaningful change to be made.
  • USCA and others feel that time is running out for an acceptable reauthorization of the program. The groups have urged the Senate Agriculture Committee to examine all possible solutions to the current market factors depressing livestock prices and increasing consolidation within the U.S. cattle industry.


China’s pork prices are on the rise again

  • In China, Pork prices have hit their highest level in about two months due to deadly outbreaks of African swine fever and concerns over pork imports amid Covid-19.
  • Just last week, pork prices saw their biggest gain in eight months when they jumped 5.1 percent. Pork is currently trading at $6.14/kg, the highest since April.
  • China has been buying record amounts of pork to fill its supply gap, but these imports may be slowed due to China’s customs department halting purchases from several overseas suppliers that are dealing with coronavirus outbreaks in their slaughterhouses.


MCOOL rally—Keystone, SD on July 3rd

  • A group of Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling supporters have decided to host a “Demand USA Beef” rally in Keystone, SD to bring attention to consumers and President Trump who will be attending the fireworks at Mt. Rushmore.
  • From cattle producers to consumers, all are welcome to attend to help spread the message of where Americans’ food comes from. Cowboys for Trump will also be in attendance at the event.


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $206.97 (-1.39)
  • Select boxed beef: $199.46 (-0.44)

Current Cattle Markets Daily Headlines: Wednesday, July 1, 2020

African swine fever spreads

  • Authorities in India have officially reported African swine fever to the World Organization for Animal Health after tests confirmed pigs on several farms in the far northeastern states of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.
  • The World Organization for Animal Health reported 10,920 pigs have been infected in both states with a mortality rate of 34 percent and a fatality rate of 88 percent.
  • Poland has also reported new cases of African swine fever. As of June 15th, 23 pigs and one sow on a backyard farm were confirmed with the disease.
  • In recent years, Vietnam has worked diligently to curb African swine fever, however a recent report indicated 4,000 pigs have been culled this year in Vietnam due to the disease.



USMCA goes into effect

  • As of this morning, the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement goes into effect. It has taken three years of negotiations and tariff disputes for USMCA to come about.
  • USMCA could increase U.S. agricultural exports by about $2 billion. The trade deal is forecasted to increase gross domestic product overall by about $65 billion.
  • S. agricultural exports to Canada amounted to $20.9 billion in 2019 and $19.2 billion to Mexico, ranking them No. 1 and 2 in sales.
  • USMCA allows zero-tariff access to both Canada and Mexico for most major ag products, such as corn, pork, and beef.


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $206.97 (-1.39)
  • Select boxed beef: $199.90 (-0.81)

Current Cattle Markets Daily Headlines : Monday, June 29, 2020

Meat market tenderized by China tops a big week for global food

  • From the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak, experts have said there are no transmission concerns linking virus infections to food. These facts haven’t stopped China from taking some unparalleled and unexpected steps to stir confusion and controversy linking coronavirus outbreaks to food.
  • China’s customs officials are asking global food exporters to sign a document that assures they’re meeting Covid-19 safety requirements to prevent transmission of the virus.
  • Last Tuesday, Australia’s government issued a statement that cited the World Health Organization, saying “transmission through food is highly unlikely.” One day later, the U.S. took a similar stance.
  • The big question through all of this is how will the U.S.-China trade deal be affected.
  • Beijing has pledged to buy more than $30 billion worth of American agricultural goods this year. The Asian country is way behind the expected purchasing pace and traders fear this will only worsen with China’s current irrational claims.


Task force to address problems within beef industry

  • Oklahoma’s State Representative Justin Humphrey, and State Senator David Bullard have organized a beef task force designed to analyze problems in marketing.
  • Independent ranchers, meat buyers, meat processors, livestock auction owners and meat inspectors have been invited to participate and identify financial obstacles and possible solutions that will provide relief to Oklahoma farmers and ranchers.
  • Humphrey and Bullard realize Oklahoma ranchers are struggling financially as costs continue to climb along with farm debt. Chapter 12 bankruptcies are up 24 percent over last year, and the beef supply chain has been challenged nationwide because of the closure of 75 percent of American feedlots and 48 packing plants, they stated.


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $207.17 (-1.09)
  • Select boxed beef: $198.85 (-1.08)

Current Cattle Markets Daily Headlines: Friday, June 26, 2020

McDonald’s ends Beyond Meat burger trial in Canada with no set plans for a plant-based option,McDonald’s%20ends%20Beyond%20Meat%20burger%20trial%20in%20Canada%20with%20no,evaluating%20learnings%22%20from%20the%20trial.

  • Between September 30th, 2019 and April 6th, 2020, Mcdonald’s’ in Canada ran a trial run of a plant-based burger created by Beyond Meat.
  • The sandwich was dubbed the P.L.T. (plant, lettuce, tomato) and it was available at dozens of McDonald’s in southwestern Ontario.
  • Since the trial has ended, the plant-based burger has been removed from all menus and McDonald’s has made no public announcements regarding the sandwich. With that being said, McDonald’s did reply to a tweet asking where the P.L.T. went, and they responded saying they have no plans to bring it back to the menu at this time.
  • McDonald’s previously introduced a meatless burger, the McVeggie Deluxe, in 2002 in Canada. This sandwich was pulled three years later due to weak sales.


Meat giant JBS debuts its line of plant-based meat products

  • JBS has debuted “Ozo,” its plant-based meat products via Colorado-based subsidiary, Planterra Foods.
  • Planterra’s products are made up of a mix of pea and rice proteins. The most novel ingredient in this new product line is dried shiitake mushrooms.
  • The plant-based meat industry is exceedingly lucrative, with sales that have grown 27 percent faster in 2020 over 2019.


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $208.26 (-1.43)
  • Select boxed beef: $199.93 (-1.76)

Current Cattle Market Headlines: Thursday, June 25, 2020

Impossible Foods CEO says the meat industry will be obsolete in 15 years

  • On Tuesday, Impossible Foods founder and CEO Patrick Brown was featured on CNBC’s Mad Money segment with Jim Cramer.
  • Brown explained that the meat industry is in the midst of a reckoning. He feels that his company’s products easily match the protein quality and content of animal protein products. On top of that, Brown said that the plant-based products are the clear winner when it comes to health and nutrition.
  • The company’s mission is to replace animal-based products in the food world within the next 15 years.
  • Earlier this week, Impossible Foods announced a partnership deal with Starbucks who will now carry the Impossible Breakfast Sandwich in most of their stores.
    • The Impossible Breakfast Sandwich is an attempt by Starbucks to offer more sustainable food options.


Warren and Booker press meatpackers on exports to China

  • Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Cory Booker of New Jersey have sent a letter to the chief executives of Smithfield, Tyson, Cargill, and JBS.
  • The two senators want to know why the companies were exporting record levels of meat to China while they were also lobbying the Trump administration to keep their plants open during the pandemic to feed the American public.
  • Also during the pandemic, Tyson published an ad in the New York Times warning the American consumer of a meat shortage coming down the line.
  • Booker and Warren claim that the packing companies put their workers’ lives in danger while also gouging the American consumer at the meat counter.
  • An article in the New York Times prompted this letter last week that reported pork exports to China totaled a record 129,000 tons in April.
  • The meatpacking companies say that the majority of the exported meat had been produced weeks before it was shipped to China and before packing plants became hot spots for the virus.
  • Data shows that meat exports surged in May.
    • Poultry increased 28 percent from a year before.
    • Pork exports to China rose 590 percent from a year earlier, reaching their highest level since 2009.
  • “These actions raise questions about the circumstances of the president’s executive order, your honesty with the American public about the reasons for higher food prices, and your commitment to providing a safe, affordable, and abundant food supply for the nation,” stated Booker and Warren in the letter.


Boxed beef beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $209.69 (-2.12)
  • Select boxed beef: $201.69 (-1.88)


Current Cattle Market Headlines: Wednesday, June 24, 2020

OCM calls for a moratorium on beef imports

  • The Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM) has sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, asking him to follow through with President Trump’s suggestion to terminate importation of cattle into the U.S.
  • Ben Gotschall, OCM Interim Executive Director, stated that beef imports must also be banned, especially from Brazil.
  • In 2017, JBS was caught bribing meat inspectors and exporting adulterated rotten meat worldwide. The U.S. then halted Brazilian beef imports the following two years, before reopening our borders to their beef products in February of 2020.
  • With the U.S. no longer requiring MCOOL on beef, and the USDA allowing imported meat to be falsely labeled “Product of U.S.A.,” consumers are not able to distinguish between U.S. beef and foreign beef.
  • OCM’s letter also stated that the group is working proactively with its members and stakeholders to develop policy recommendations for a transition to a more decentralized food system and expressed the need to breakup the “Big Four” meatpacking companies.


Lower beef prices at the grocery stores ahead

  • Wholesale beef prices are edging closer to last year’s lows, according to Texas A&M AgriLife Extension economist David Anderson.
  • Last week, choice boxed beef settled at $2.41/lb., which is relatively close to June 2019, when it was at $2.22/lb.
  • Anderson added that day-to-day beef production has surpassed 2019 numbers, however, processing capacity remains below 100%.
    • Beef production is larger than year-ago levels because feeder cattle weights are up.
  • Retail prices should start to reflect the drop in wholesale prices as we move into July. “It will be interesting to see where wholesale prices end up and whether the prices at grocers will be as dramatic as what we’ve seen with wholesale,” said Anderson.
  • The U.S. economy will play a large role in beef prices as America is experiencing a recession, 40 million people are unemployed, incomes are falling, and restaurants are at partial capacity.


Grassley calls for hearing on cattle pricing issues

  • Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley is asking the Senate Agriculture committee to hold a hearing on concerns about beef packers and cattle pricing.
  • Senator Grassley understands the hardships that farmers and ranchers are currently experiencing, and realizes the marketplace is not working like it should.
  • Grassley is also trying to gather support for his 50/14 bill that would mandate 50% of fed cattle purchases be done through negotiated cash trade.
    • One key member of the committee is in opposition of the bill, Chairman Pat Roberts of Kansas.
    • “And I don’t understand—they’ve got to have a big cattle operation in Kansas—I don’t know why he would be against 50% of a daily kill to be negotiated as opposed to about 20%.


Boxed beef prices increase marginally

  • Choice boxed beef: $211.81 (-2.25)
  • Select boxed beef: $203.57 (-0.73)

Current Cattle Market Headlines: Tuesday, June 23 2020

China suspends poultry imports from Tyson plant where workers tested positive

  • The Chinese customs agency has suspended poultry imports from a Tyson processing plant in Springdale, AR after coronavirus cases were confirmed among its employees.
  • The announcement gave no details of the quantity of meat affected.
  • Tyson spokesperson, Gary Mickelson, noted that all global and U.S. health organizations, in addition to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, agree that there is no evidence to support transmission of Covid-19 associated with food.
  • On Friday, Tyson Foods reported coronavirus testing results from Benton and Washington Counties, Arkansas, and said that approximately 95% of employees who tested positive for the virus did not show any symptoms.
  • Of the 3,748 employees tested, 481 tested positive for Covid-19, and 455 were asymptomatic.


U.S. Customs and Border Protection seize nearly 20,000 lbs. of illegal meat

  • S. Customs and Border Protection seized nearly 20,000 pounds of prohibited pork, chicken, beef, and duck products from China between the dates of April 6th and June 6th at the Los Angeles/Long Beach Seaport.
  • Most of the products were mixed in boxes of electronics in an attempt to smuggle the illegal goods.
  • The U.S. pork industry has been sure to keep pork products from African swine fever-infected countries out of the U.S.
    • China is currently fighting African swine fever, along with Classical swine fever, Newcastle Disease, Foot and Mouth Disease, highly pathogenic avian influenza, and Swine Vesicular Disease.
  • S. Customs and Border Protection reported that during the first five months of fiscal year 2020, the interception of illegal meats from China at the Long Beach Seaport has increased 70% compared to year-ago levels.


Boxed beef prices update

  • Choice boxed beef: $214.06 (+0.34)
  • Select boxed beef: $204.30 (+0.39)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines Thursday, June 18, 2020

Beyond meat to sell value pack at Wal-Mart, Target with lowest-ever price point

  • Beyond Meat is looking to capture a bigger slice of the summer grill-out market with a new value pack being sold at Wal-Mart and Target across the U.S.
  • The “cookout classic” box will include 10 faux-meat patties with a suggested retail price of $15.99, which equates to approximately $1.60/patty.
  • This is the lowest price point Beyond Meat patties have ever hit, on top of that, the price is competitive with some meat burger patties.
  • The company has stated that it would like to price its products comparably to their meat equivalents by 2024.
  • Beyond Meat’s burgers are made from plant-based ingredients and contain no soy or gluten.
  • Beyond meat has a goal of making their products more accessible and plan to launch a new direct-to-consumer website later this summer.


Former Bumble Bee CEO sentenced to prison for fixing prices of canned tuna

  • Christopher Lischewski, former chief executive officer and president of Bumble Bee Foods LLC, has been sentenced to serve 40 months in jail and pay a $100,000 criminal fine for his leadership role in a three-year antitrust conspiracy to fix prices of canned tuna, according to the DOJ.
  • The court found that Lischewski was a leader of conspiracy and that his actions affected over $600 million dollars of canned tuna sales.
  • Assistant Attorney General, Makan Delrahim, of the DOJ’s Antitrust Division had the following statement regarding the conviction, “”Executives who cheat American consumers out of the benefits of competition will be brought to justice, particularly when their antitrust crimes affect the most basic necessity, food.


Boxed beef prices decrease

  • Choice boxed beef: $217.93 (-9.96)
  • Select boxed beef: $208.08 (-5.09)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Cargill launches $15 million Cargill Cares Employee Disaster Relief Fund

  • Cargill is launching the Cargill Cares Employee Disaster Relief Fund to support employees around the world during times of catastrophic or personal disaster.
  • The company is contributing $15 million as an initial start to the fund.
  • This fund was initially set up to establish support for the immediate needs of Cargill employees during Covid-19, but it will also serve as a long-term resource for future events.


Saturday harvest key to erasing backlogs

  • Beef and pork packers have almost recovered from slow-downs and closures caused by the coronavirus.
  • Last week’s estimated cattle slaughter was at 658,000 hd., just 11,000 hd. below the same week one year ago. Hog slaughter was estimated at 2.457 million hd., 18,000 more than the same week one year ago.
  • An increased slaughter level is good news, however the backlogs of both cattle and hogs remain a burden to producers.
  • A key to working through these backlogs will be increased Saturday operation and possibly Sunday kill.
  • Packers are experiencing significant profit margins, which may be just enough incentive, along with wage incentives for workers, to make Sunday slaughter a reality.


Smithfield Foods and Tyson Foods sign on to thank President Trump

  • Tyson Foods and Smithfield Foods have signed on to a letter to President Trump thanking him for advocating on behalf of the U.S. farmers, ranchers, food industry workers, and the entire U.S. food and agriculture manufacturing and marketing sector.
  • The letter commends President Trump for his negotiation and timely implementation of the U.S.-China Phase One Trade Agreement.
  • Key statements included in the letter:
    • S. net farm cash income in 2020 is projected to decline 9% or $11 billion from a year ago.
    • The agriculture industry is the backbone of rural America as it supports 22 million jobs and accounts for 20% of the U.S. economy.
    • S. agricultural exports to China in 2019 surpassed $13.8 billion, supporting more than 2.3 million jobs in the U.S. agricultural sector.


McDonald’s U.S. sales stabilize after lockdown caused plunge

  • McDonald’s U.S. sales declined 19% in April, but recovered most of those losses in May, as consumers got tired of home cooking.
  • Due to coronavirus, analysts are forecasting McDonald’s revenue will fall 36% in the months of April, May, and June. Despite this, McDonald’s Chief Executive Officer Chris Kempczinski sees the chain emerging “in a position of competitive strength.”
  • Almost all of McDonald’s U.S. restaurants are now operational via drive thru and delivery.


Boxed beef declines

  • Choice boxed beef; $227.89 (-0.72)
  • Select boxed beef; $213.17 (-1.18)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines Tuesday, June 16, 2020


Meatpacking workers often absent after Trump order to reopen

  • Smithfield Foods Inc. in Sioux Falls, SD is still missing about a third of its employees because they are quarantined or afraid to return to work due to the coronavirus.
  • According to Mark Lauritsen, vice president at the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, 30%-50% of meatpacking workers were absent last week.
  • Meatpacking workers lost confidence in management during the height of the coronavirus outbreaks in April and May. At the same time, Tyson and Smithfield say they have taken extensive safety measures, at great cost, to protect workers.
    • Physical barriers have been erected, workers’ temperatures are taken, protective gear has been provided and break times have been staggered.


Lawsuit number 3: Grocers allege meatpackers are price fixing

  • Central Grocers filed a class action lawsuit alleging the big four packers have violated the Sherman Act by conspiring to constrain beef supplies in the U.S.
  • April 2020 USDA data revealed that 14% more beef is in “cold storage” than at this time a year ago, and more than any April in the past 5 years. Some believe that the meatpackers are withholding this beef from the market to push prices even higher.
  • “If we had more players in this packing industry, they wouldn’t be attempting to put stuff in the freezer, they would figure out a price to sell it because they wouldn’t be able to jack the price of their other items up so much,” said Greg Gunthorp of Gunthorp Farms.
  • Gunthorp isn’t sure if the meat market will ever return to “normal.” He would like to see more small and medium sized packers, however he fears that they will be undercut by the big four packers.
  • There needs to be reform for new packing plants to stand a chance. The big packers have shown over and over again that they will run a new packing plant into the ground, stated Gunthorp.


Boxed beef continues to fall

  • Choice boxed beef: $228.61 (-2.03)
  • Select boxed beef: $214.35 (-4.92)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines Monday, June 15, 2020


U.S. live cattle futures touch one-month low

  • S. live cattle futures dropped to their lowest price in more than a month on Friday hinging on expectations of increased meat production.
  • Beef processing plants are almost back to normal slaughter levels. On Friday, USDA estimated that meat processors slaughtered 582,000 cattle, up from 573,000 cattle over the same period the week before. A year ago, slaughter levels were at 606,000.
  • On Friday, August live cattle dropped to $95.325, its lowest price since May 6th.


Cows being use to produce COVID vaccine

  • The U.S. continues to struggle with the spread of Covid-19 and scientists continue to search for a cure.
  • A biotechnology company in South Dakota is using cows to produce human antibodies to fight SARS-CoV-2. Clinical trials using the antibodies will begin this summer.
  • SAb Biotherapeutics developed the approach to produce antibodies 20 years ago.
  • The company alters dairy cows so that certain immune cells carry the DNA that allows people to make antibodies. This change allows animals to manufacture large quantities of human antibodies against a pathogen protein injected into them.
  • Since cows have a significant amount of blood, they are a good choice for producing antibodies. Their blood can also contain twice as many antibodies per milliliter as human blood, said Eddie Sullivan, SAb Biotherapeutic’s president and CEO.


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $230.64 (-4.92)
  • Select boxed beef: $219.27 (-0.61)


Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for Friday, June 12, 2020


Tyson Foods says cooperating with DOJ in chicken price-fixing probe

  • On Wednesday, Tyson Foods Inc. reported that the company is cooperating with the U.S. Department of Justice on a price-fixing investigation in the poultry industry, under a program that could protect the meat processor from criminal prosecution.
  • The formal grant under the DOJ’s corporate leniency program would mean neither the company nor its employees will face criminal fines, jail time or prosecution.
  • Tyson was served a subpoena back in April and the news comes just one week after the chief executive of poultry company Pilgrim’s Pride was indicted along with three other current and former industry executives on charges of seeking to fix chicken prices in the U.S.
  • Grocer, retailers and consumers have accused Pilgrim’s Pride, Tyson Foods and other poultry processors of conspiring since 2008 to inflate prices for broiler chickens.


Class action lawsuit filed against beef packers

  • Tyson, Cargill, JBS USA, and National Beef have yet another lawsuit brought against them, this time for potential cattle market manipulation as a class action lawsuit has been filed in the U.S. District Court of Minnesota by Central Grocers.
  • This comes at a time when all four packers are currently under investigation by the DOJ.
  • The class action lawsuit alleges that the companies conspired to constrain beef supplies since at least the start of 2015.
  • A confidential witness has come forward to confirm the conspiracy among the packers.
  • This witness, who was previously employed by one of the packers, reported that the four packers agreed to reduce their cattle purchases and slaughter volumes with the purpose and effect of increasing their profit margins. Collusion was also occurring.
    • These actions created a surplus of cattle and a shortage of beef.
  • Daniel Karon, legal counsel in the class action lawsuit said, “Price fixing destroys the integrity of the marketplace. It results in buyers overpaying for products. The marketplace needs to be fair for buyers and sellers who want fair treatment. The antirust laws exist to encourage fairness over greed.”


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef; 235.56 (-.50)
  • Select boxed beef; $219.88 (-2.96)


Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for Thursday, June 11, 2020


Grassley calls for release of Packers and Stockyards finds on Tyson fire

  • Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa has sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue requesting that the Packers and Stockyards Division publicly release findings from it’s investigation into beef pricing margins following the fire at Tyson’s processing plant in Holcomb, KS.
  • Senator Grassley explains in the letter that it has almost been a year since USDA’s Packers and Stockyards Division launched an investigation into beef pricing margins following the plant fire, and cattle producers are still waiting for results from this investigation.
  • If no report is issued by August 9th, 2020, a year after the fire, Senator Grassley will be asking the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct an investigation into the reporting processes of the Packers and Stockyards Division to see if additional authority or resources are needed to properly conduct oversight of processing facilities.


USCA sends letter to congressional leaders on Covid-19 relief

  • On Wednesday, June 10th, 2020, the United States Cattlemen’s Association (USCA) sent a letter to Congressional leaders expressing their concerns with the current framework of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP).
  • The letter also requested additional funding for U.S. cattle producers in the next coronavirus relief package.
  • USCA recommended the following changes:
    • Extend the current timeframe for payment eligibility to include all sales of eligible livestock between January 15th, 2020, to May 15th, 2020. This change would include April and May when producers saw the markets drop to their lowest.
    • As written, CFAP covers only 25% of the drop in the cattle inventory. Instead, the program should cover actual losses, or a percentage high enough to capture the average drop in cattle inventory due to Covid-19.
    • The $250,000 payment limits put in place stifle the program’s ability to address actual losses, especially for small and mid-sized producers.


Beef packers ask court to throw out antitrust lawsuit

  • On Monday, lawyers representing the four largest U.S. beef packers told a federal court that the Justice Department’s probe into the beef market doesn’t justify civil antitrust lawsuits filed by cattle ranchers, who are accusing meatpackers of price fixing to lower cattle prices.
  • The meatpackers are asking the district judge in Minnesota to throw out the cases, which they say are based on “speculation and gossip.”
  • R-Calf and others filed suit last year, alleging antitrust violations and seeking damages for ranchers.
  • According to the claims, the four beef packers started coordinating in 2015 to reduce the number of cattle they slaughtered and the animals they bought directly from ranchers in the cash market, which resulted in depressed cattle prices.


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $236.06 (-10.94)
  • Select boxed beef: $222.84 (-5.11)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for Wednesday, June 10, 2020


Thune, Baldwin introduce bill to improve paycheck protection program for agricultural producers

  • Senator John Thune of South Dakota and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin introduced legislation on Tuesday that would revise the way producers calculate their Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan award.
  • The PPP program was created in the CARES Act to help small businesses retain their employees and cover other qualifying business expenses.
  • South Dakota’s agricultural producers are the heartbeat of the state’s economy; we need to ensure that our agriculture community can weather this pandemic, said Thune.
  • “The Paycheck Protection for Producers Act will provide welcome relief for farmers rendered ineligible for PPP under the CARES Act as a result of financial losses caused by 2019 weather conditions,” said Jeff Thompson, president of the South Dakota Soybean Association.


Processing sector recovering quicker than expected

  • University of Missouri’s Scott Brown feels that the recovery to the processing sector following Covid-19 has been impressive.
  • Brown said a month ago no expected cattle slaughter to be near year-ago levels and hog slaughter to be above year-ago levels.
  • A negative side affect to these increased slaughter levels has been the sharp decline of boxed beef prices and the pork cutout values.
  • Brown feels a strong economic recovery coupled with strong domestic demand will be a vital component needed for the livestock sector to bounce back from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.


Boxed beef prices continue to tumble

  • Choice boxed beef: $247.00 (-7.58)
  • Select boxed beef: $227.95 (-3.17)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for Tuesday, June 9, 2020


Slaughter rates higher, wholesale prices lower

  • Wholesale beef and pork price have nosedived in the past two weeks.
  • Friday’s choice boxed beef cutout closed at $261.48/cw., a 28% decline for the week and 45% lower than the high we set on May 12th.
  • The pork cutout closed Friday at $72.78/cw., down 17.5% from a week ago and 40% lower than the peak on May 11th.
  • These numbers suggest that the majority of our meat processing plants finally getting back to normal levels of slaughter.
  • According to Steiner Consulting, last week’s cattle slaughter was estimated at 636,000 hd., the highest since the last week of March and only 4.3% lower than a year ago.
  • The weight of steers and heifers being slaughtered is approximately 4-5% higher, so net fed beef supplies for last week were similar to a year ago.
  • Hog slaughter last week was 2.452 million head, the highest since the first week of April and 1.7% higher than a year ago. Heavier hog carcass weights have increased pork production by 4.2% compared to a year ago.


Three poultry execs plead not guilty to price-fixing

  • Three of four poultry executives who are accused of conspiring to fix chicken prices and rig bids for broilers have entered pleads of not guilty. The fourth executive requested a continuance in order to hire new counsel.
  • All four executives were released on their own recognizance.
  • If convicted, the executives face a statutory maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $1 million fine.


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: 254.58 (-6.90)
  • Select boxed beef: $231.12 (-15.30)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for Monday, June 8, 2020


Meat-Pricing Probe Expands to Beef, Pork

Wall Street Journal, Saturday edition

  • The Justice Department is deepening its probe into federal antitrust scrutiny of the $213 billion U.S. meat industry.
  • The DOJ has issued subpoenas to the four biggest beef processors; JBS USA Holdings Inc., Tyson Foods Inc., Cargill Inc., and National Beef Packing Co.
  • Besides having their beef processing investigated, JBS and Tyson are also having their pork processing activities looked into.
  • Last Thursday, a call was held with DOJ officials and several state attorneys general to discuss their shared concerns about competition in the meat processing industry.
  • Cattle producers made their concerns heard regarding price fixing after the Tyson plant fire last fall. This event caused a sharp drop in cattle prices while wholesale beef prices for meatpackers increased. USDA claimed to have launched an investigation into this price disparity, however nothing has come from that investigation.
  • When Covid-19 began to spread across America in March, consumers stocked up on beef, packing plants were forced to shut down due to coronavirus outbreaks among workers, and cattle prices tumbled while prices for processed beef sky rocketed.
  • From March to the end of May, the value of processed beef carcasses jumped 76% according to the USDA.
  • In response to these allegations, meat processors claim economic forces are driving beef prices higher and cattle futures lower.


Department of Justice issues subpoenas to big four meatpackers

  • Hermosa, SD rancher Rick Fox is cautiously optimistic that this DOJ investigation will produce something worthwhile.
  • “We get our hopes up so many times. I really hope something happens this time,” said Fox.
  • He went on to explain that ranchers and feeders may be losing their trust in government agencies after the investigation into the Holcomb, KS Tyson plant fire back in August of 2019 didn’t yield any results.
  • The anti-trust activity among the four big packers that control about 80% of the processing in the beef industry is blatant, according to Fox. The packers need to be broken up so as to limit their influence over the market.
  • Boxed beef prices have more than doubled in the past two months, while live cattle prices dropped by 20% or more. Even worse, many feeders weren’t able to obtain bids on their cattle, forcing them to feed cattle past their optimum point. Due to this, cattle have lost value while feeders’ costs have increased.
  • While the cattle industry awaits more news about the DOJ investigation, the R-Calf lawsuit alleging packer anti-trust behavior will have a hearing today, June 8th. The purpose of this hearing is for the judge to meet with both the defendants and the plaintiffs to determine whether or not to grant the packers their “motion to dismiss.”


Nebraska has funds for livestock producers

  • On May 27th, Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts declared that small grants would be available for livestock producers through the CARES act passed by Congress earlier this year.
  • These funds will be available for beef, pork, poultry, dairy and sheep/goat producers with between one and ten employees “that have closed or sustained a loss of revenue or employment since March 13, 2020.
  • Each producer is eligible for $12,000.
  • The grant, which will not be required to be repaid, can be used as working capital to pay for operating expenses, with the goal of helping producers through the rough economic times.
  • Signup for the grant begins on June 15th.


Boxed beef continues to fall

  • Choice boxed beef: $261.48 (-10.78)
  • Select boxed beef: $246.42 (-13.39)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for Friday, June 5, 2020


JBS sued over alleged violation of Brazil indigenous rights during pandemic

  • JBS is being sued for alleged violation of indigenous workers’ rights after firing 40 members of the Kaingang tribe from it’s Seara chicken-slaughtering plant in southern Brazil, according to a court document.
  • The suit claims that JBS discriminated against these workers as the coronavirus pandemic spread through Brazil.
  • Prosecutors hope the suit will force JBS to re-hire the indigenous workers. If the prosecutors win the suit, they are also seeking $1.9 million in fines and damages against JBS.
  • The dismissed employees traveled from the Serrinha indigenous land by bus to the JBS plant for work. According to JBS, the 40 employees were dismissed after the company discontinued the bus service that brought the workers to the plant every day. JBS gave no reason for discontinuing the bus service and denied any discrimination.


Brazil labor prosecutors seek closure of JBS plant due to Covid-19

  • Brazilian labor prosecutors filed a petition on Wednesday with a local court demanding closure of a JBS pork plant in the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul due to an outbreak of coronavirus.
  • JBS has been dealing with the spread of Covid-19 throughout their plants since late April and into mid-May. The outbreaks led authorities to request the temporary suspension of activities of JBS slaughterhouses in Santa Catarina, Rio Grade do Sul and Rondonia states.


Boxed beef prices continue to decline

  • Choice boxed beef: $272.26 (-23.64)
  • Select boxed beef: $260.41 (-16.37)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for Thursday, June 4, 2020


Plant-based foods outpacing total food sales during Covid-19

  • Last week the San Francisco-based Plant Based Foods Association (PBFA) and SPINS, a provider of wellness-focused data and market analytics, reported that U.S. retail sales of plant-based foods have considerably outpaced total food sales during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Plant-based meat sales are also showing strong growth while animal meat sales are declining.
  • Julie Emmett, senior director of retail partnerships at the Plant Based Foods Association, said that it is clear that this industry has staying power, as growth remains strong even through the highest panic-buying period.
  • “Since the beginning of the pandemic, there has been a continued shift in consumer purchasing toward natural and organic products that enhance health and immunity,” said Tony Olson, owner and CEO of SPINS.
  • Olson also stated that plant-based meat continues to gain traction as animal-based meat deals with increased shortages.


Pilgrim’s Pride CEO and other chicken industry executives indicted for price fixing;

  • Four current and former chicken industry executives, including Pilgrim’s Pride CEO Jayson Penn, have been indicted for price fixing.
  • Shares of Pilgrim’s Pride plunged as much as 13% during yesterday’s afternoon trading.
  • Even though Tyson Foods was not named in the indictment, their shares also fell when the news broke.
  • Other executives allegedly involved in the scheme include former Pilgrim’s Pride vice president, Roger Austin, Claxton Poultry Farm’s President Mikell Fries and Scott Brady, a former Pilgrim’s Pride executive who joined Claxton in 2012.
  • Pilgrim’s Pride supplies chicken for Costco and Yum Brands’ KFC. Claxton is a supplier for Chick-fil-A.
  • The four chicken industry executives were indicted with one count of conspiring to fix prices for broiler chickens from at least 2012 through 2017.
  • The indictment says that executives from both Pilgrim’s Pride and Claxton communicated behind closed doors about negotiations with fast-food chains and grocery stores. They then submitted similar bids.


Boxed beef continues to plunge

  • Choice boxed beef: $295.90 (-22.83)
  • Select boxed beef: $276.78 (-13.80)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for Wednesday, June 3, 2020


The fake cash market may be over

  • Last week, Cargill was the only packer to continue to purchase cattle at $120.
  • National Beef announced that all grid cattle harvested this week will have discounts applied and will be priced off the average instead of a set price.
  • Tyson is accepting grid and cash cattle.
  • Last week, Tyson turned down some cattle they thought are now too big. This is a major concern that other feeders may encounter in the near future.
  • As boxed beef prices continue to decline, it is likely that packers will have less need to support the market and the cattle markets will follow boxed beef prices.


Brazil’s Marfrig, prosecutors agree to more protection for workers amid pandemic;

  • Marfrig Global Foods has signed a settlement with labor prosecutors in Brazil to improve protections for workers amid outbreaks of Covid-19 cases in their meat processing plants.
  • This settlement includes routine testing of workers for novel coronavirus and imposes a mandatory 5 ft. in physical distance between workers at the company’s 12 plants in Brazil.
  • Marfrig, who is also the majority owner of National Beef Co. LLC in the U.S., said on Monday that it would also test all 18,000 workers starting on June 2nd.
  • The meat packing company must also remove all “symptomatic workers” from their plants until testing is conducted, for a minimum of 14 days.

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for Tuesday, June 2, 2020


NCBA president: We support more cash trade

  • NCBA’s president, Marty Smith, reported last week that NCBA does support greater numbers in cash trade, along with in depth price discovery.
  • NCBA has put together “a lot of cattle feeders” and “a lot of state executives” to look into possible solutions to fix our cattle markets.
  • Smith stated that a problem existed prior to the pandemic. “We saw that last summer with the Holcomb fire. We saw that our system has real weaknesses and at times it is just absolutely broken.”
  • NCBA does not support Senator Chuck Grassley’s legislation to mandate that the bigger meatpackers purchase at least 50% of their weekly kill on the cash market, and that cattle be delivered to the packing plant within 14 days of purchase.
  • According to USDA, currently, 20-25 percent of fed cattle are sold on the cash market; formula and grid agreements are being based on that relatively small amount of negotiated cash trade.
  • NCBA believes in a free market system, and they aren’t going to dictate and don’t want to government dictating specifics about cattle being bought or sold, explained Smith. NCBA has detailed policies that have been set regarding issues such as this one. These policies can be changed, and with their summer conference coming up the organization will be assessing their stance.
  • When asked about the many legislative proposals being talked about among other cattle groups, Smith said, “ we look at those proposals, they are nothing that really works to enhance the cattle industry, and we’re not going to jump out and try to change something because someone said that is the quick fix.


Slaughter totals increasing, but challenges are far from over

  • Daily slaughter levels for cattle and hogs are continuing to improve as both industries work towards pre-Covid-19 levels.
  • University of Missouri livestock economist Scott Brown stated that the hog industry’s processing sector is breaking even at best with their daily slaughter levels. With that being said, there is still right around 2 million hogs backed up at the producer level that need to be worked through. Brown feels that this crisis is far from over and it’s going to take the hog industry awhile to return to normalcy.
  • Scott feels the cattle industry is in the same boat. There might not be a bunch of heavyweight cattle left, but a significant amount of cattle have been slowed in getting to the feedyard. The industry will be paying the price for these cattle through the end of this year.


U.S. ground beef sales up $1 billion in 2020

  • Through May 17th, U.S. ground beef sales increased more than $1 billion compared to the same period last year.
  • Anne-Marie Roerink, president of 210 Analytics, says this year-over-year gain is due to increased consumer spending.
  • According to IRI, a data analytics and research company, millennial households were behind the biggest increases in meat spending since the onset of coronavirus.
  • Ground proteins have seen the most purchase limitations. These products are popular due to their versatility and ease of preparation.
  • Looking at the four weeks leading up to April 19th, keep in mind this time period had two weeks of panic buying, the average household spent $5 more on ground beef than in the prior year, an increase of 30% said Roerink.


Boxed beef continues to decline

  • Choice boxed beef: 341.15 (-$22.19)
  • Select boxed beef: 316.83 (-$23.24)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for Monday, June 1, 2020


Trump announces new sanctions on Chinese officials, but won’t scrap phase one trade deal

  • On Friday, President Trump announced new sanctions against Chinese officials. He directed his administration to revoke special trade exemptions for Hong Kong. However, he did say that he would keep a phase one trade deal with China intact.
  • Sanctions and visa restrictions will be put into place on Chinese officials who played a role in “smothering” Honk Kong’s freedom.
  • He also directed his administration to end Hong Kong’s preferential treatment in customs, trade and travel.
  • Along with these restrictions/sanctions, the U.S. will also terminate its relationship with the World Health Organization. Trump feels that China has “total control” over the WHO.
  • Trump stated that he believes China has engaged in a cover up of the “Wuhan virus.”


Iowa pork plant to close temporarily because of Covid-19

  • Tyson Foods has temporarily closed its Storm Lake, IA pork plant due to 550 workers at the plant testing positive for coronavirus. The plant employs 2,500 individuals.
  • The plant is scheduled to resume operations later this week after additional cleaning and sanitizing.
  • The Storm Lake plant has a slaughter capacity of 17,000 hogs per day.


Ibach calls for a higher percentage of negotiated cash trade, says there is “some merit”

  • USDA Under Secretary Greg Ibach stated last week that there is “some merit” to calls for a higher percentage of negotiated cash trade in the cattle industry.
  • Ibach, a cattle rancher from Nebraska, told Brownfield that he is also concerned about price discovery in the industry.
  • Ibach touched on the fact that often times, we are not able to report prices on what the actual negotiated price for animals really is.
  • Ibach expects it to be an issues as Congress discusses reauthorization of mandatory price reporting later this year.


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $363.34 (-$6.22)
  • Select boxed beef: $340.07 (-$4.02)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for Friday, May 29, 2020


Marfrig and ADM unveil PlantPlus Foods, a joint venture offering fake meat plant-based products

  • Marfrig and ADM has announced that they have reached an agreement to create PlantPlus Foods, a joint venture for the sale of plant-based food products across South American and North American markets.
  • Marfrig and ADM have a history working together developing plant-based foods in South America.
  • “PlantPlus Foods will be ready from day one to meet customer needs in this fast-growing market,” said Marcos Molina, founder and chairman.
  • The company feels that consumers are thinking of foods in new ways. They feel that people realize delicious hamburgers don’t necessarily have to come from an animal source; they can come from a variety of sources, one of those being plants.
  • Initially, Marfrig will own 70% of the company and ADM will own 30%.
  • Molina explained that the demand for proteins, both plant and animal, is growing across the globe, and Marfrig and ADM are ready to help meet those needs.
  • The new company will launch operations as soon as required regulatory approvals have been received.


First closure in Brazil, world’s top exporter, specter of more disruptions

  • While the U.S. has begun to see some normalcy return in our meat-processing sector, Brazil is currently dealing with the rapid spread of the virus. This situation is threatening production in Brazil, the world’s top beef and chicken exporter.
  • JBS was ordered to shutter operations at a beef plant in the state of Rondonia after a judicial ruling. This is the first closure for beef in the country since the virus first hit.
  • The closure of more Brazilian meat processing facilities could have major global ripple effects on meat supplies.
  • Brazil has only seen a handful of plants close so far, much better than the U.S. who cut output by about 40% from normal levels during the worst part of the crisis.
  • JBS has introduced a new set of safety standards to protect supplies and workers in hopes of avoiding additional shutdowns.
  • Brazil has become a hot spot for the virus, with cases spiking to the second highest in the world.
  • Europe is also seeing the effects of coronavirus on its meat processing plants as more than 1,000 workers have contracted the disease.

Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $369.56 (-$8.21)
  • Select boxed beef: $344.09 (-$6.11)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for Thursday, May 28, 2020


U.S., China trade tensions could bubble over

  • There is legitimate concern the phase one deal could unravel as tensions increase between the U.S. and China.
  • On Tuesday, President Trump said he is ready to take action against China over its effort to impose national security laws on Hong Kong.
  • DTN lead analyst, Todd Hultman, says a trade dispute with China is the number one problem for commodity prices the White House could actually do something about.
  • Hultman realizes that the solution to this problem won’t be easy, but our decisions here in the U.S. are making it extremely difficult to get trade going again with China.
  • The relationship we have with China when it comes to trade can make a real difference for our American farmers and ranchers.


Justice Department investigates high meat prices amid coronavirus crisis

  • Consumers across our nation are facing significant prices at the meat counter, some are even finding empty shelves in their grocery stores.
  • While consumers are facing increased prices at the grocery store, meat processors are paying farmers less and less for beef.
  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average price of ground beef is $6.22/lb. This price increased $.26 from March to April.
  • Officials in the DOJ investigation are currently probing irregularities in pricing within our four big packers; JBS, Cargill, National Beef, and Tyson.
  • Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa has been at the forefront fighting for cattle producers over the past few months.
    • Besides pushing for the DOJ to look into corruption and collusion within our processing sector, he has also brought forward a bill to increase negotiated cash trade


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $377.77 (-$7.72)
  • Select boxed beef: $350.20 (-$9.82)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for Wednesday, May 27, 2020



Sale barns talk checkoff referendum

  • The South Dakota Livestock Auction Markets Assoc. is hoping to facilitate a vote on the national beef checkoff.
  • According to Bryan Hanson of Ft. Pierre Livestock, SDLAMA’s president, the organization recently approved policy that seeks an “up or down vote” on the national $1 beef checkoff.
  • SDLAMA’s board of directors voted unanimously to work towards gathering enough petition signatures to allow producers the opportunity to vote for the checkoff.
  • Chelsea Good, the Livestock Marketing Association vice president of government and industry affairs, said that the issue will be discussed at the next LMA government and industry affairs committee virtual meeting. If the committee feels the concept has merit, they will recommend that the LMA board take it up and decide whether a membership vote is necessary.
  • According to Bryan Hanson, about 73,900 signatures will be needed, 10% of cattle producers, according to the USDA. However, he feels that more signatures are needed in case some are considered unacceptable.
  • In 2000, the LMA helped gather signatures for a beef checkoff referendum. 107,833 signatures were required at that time and 127,926 signatures were submitted. However, an accounting firm estimated that only 83,464 were valid.


The meat industry is trying to get back to normal. But workers are still getting sick—and shortages may get worse;

  • Tyson Foods has transformed its facilities across America in hopes of warding off Covid-19 amongst its employees. Despite their efforts, in less than a month, confirmed coronavirus cases have jumped from 1,600 cases to 7,000, according to a Washington Post analysis of news reports and public records.
  • With this surge in cases, many workers are scared to go to work. Workers may have concerns with working conditions, however they are scared to come forward fearing retaliation that may cost them their job.
  • In the past month, the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases tied to three of the country’s biggest meat processors—Tyson Foods, Smithfield Foods, and JBS—has gone from 3,000 to more than 11,000, according to the Post analysis.
  • CoBank reported in May that meat supplies in grocery stores could shrink as much as 35% due to processing plant issues.


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $385.49 (-$11.35)
  • Select boxed beef: $360.02(-$14.16)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for Tuesday, May 26, 2020


Iowa meat lockers now eligible to sell into other states

  • Last week, the Iowa Department of Agriculture reached an agreement with the USDA that will allow eligible state-inspected butcher shops and meat lockers to sell their product across state lines.
  • This agreement bypasses the rule that said only federally inspected facilities could sell into other states.
  • Iowa’s Agriculture Secretary, Mike Naig, said that Covid-19 has made it clear the vital role that local community lockers play in our food supply chain.
  • This agreement will allow local lockers to grow their business, move more products and access new markets. Consumers in other states will also be able to experience high quality, Iowa-raised meat.
  • Iowa is the seventh state to enter into a Cooperative Interstate Shipment (CIS) agreement with USDA. Other states include; Maine, Indiana, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, and Wisconsin.


Boxed beef prices & cattle on feed report

  • Cattle on feed: 11.2 million head as of May 1, 2020. Inventory down 5% below May 1, 2019.
  • Placements for the month of April: 1.43 million head, a decrease of 22% from 2019. Placements were recorded as the second lowest for April since the series began in 1996.
  • Marketings for the month of April: 1.46 million head, a decrease of 24% from 2019. April’s marketings were the lowest since the series began in 1996.
  • Last week was the first week since the beginning of January that finished cattle prices exceeded year ago prices from the same week.
  • Choice boxed beef: $396.74 (-$5.07)
  • Select boxed beef: $374.18 (-$8.35)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for Friday, May 22, 2020


South Dakota ranchers unhappy with Rounds’ MCOOL resolution—570648791.html?fbclid=IwAR3LidcP-i20XsMda_1FVClZfj9GKghCy2yj7ro5j04gGJot0HcLit_9Wps

  • American cattle producers have been asking for “Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling (MCOOL)” on beef products for quite some time now.
  • The nation’s four major meatpackers have been mixing foreign beef with American beef, and cattle producers feel that the two products need to be differentiated.
  • Senator Tester of Montana and Senator Rounds of South Dakota recently proposed a resolution to support MCOOL, but many American cattle producers feel this resolution is helpful.
  • A resolution is not a bill, so legally this doesn’t require the packers to change anything with their beef labeling. Packers are still able to import foreign beef at a cheaper price, mix it with domestic product, and gouge consumers with record prices.
  • Liz May, a cattle producer who also runs a grocery store, says imports need to be shut down. It doesn’t make sense to continue to import beef when we have an abundant domestic supply of cattle.


Beef in cold storage surges

  • USDA has reported that the amount of beef in cold storage at the end of April was up sharply compared to the same period in 2019.
  • Beef cold storage is reported at 489.999 million pounds, up 14% on the year. This increase comes even with a month-to-month decline in supplies due to processing plant issues.
  • Pork was reported at 614.8 million pounds, 1% lower than a year ago.
  • Total red meat storage was reported at 1.148 billion pounds, 5% higher than last year at this time.


Cattle slaughter 1 million head short in six weeks

  • America’s beef packers are slowing improving weekly harvest rates.
  • Last week USDA reported slaughter at 499,000 head, up 14% higher than two weeks ago. This week is projected to hover around 530,000 head.
  • Last week’s slaughter was still 25% lower than the same week a year ago.
  • Slaughter since the second week of April is 1 million head lower (27%) than the same period a year ago. A backlog of 1 million head of cattle in the feedyards means the urgency to get packers running at full capacity is of great importance.
  • It is expected that processing plants should have kill capacity back up to 90% by the fourth quarter.
  • Another great concern is the increased slaughter weights. Cattle being backed up in the feedyards will result in increased weights. There is a good chance we will see this increase in weights through the end of the year and into 2021.
  • Weights are record high for both steers and heifers.
    • Steer carcasses for the last week of April: 41 lbs. heavier than the previous year.
    • Heifer carcasses for the last week of April: 31 lbs. heaver than the previous year.


Boxed beef prices

  • Choice boxed beef: $401.81 (-$2.23)
  • Select boxed beef: $382.53 (-$8.65)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for Thursday, May 21, 2020


NCBA supports a voluntary labeling program

  • A major push for MCOOL to be reinstated has resurfaced over the past couple months, but NCBA’s Ceo, Colin Woodall, says the labeling will do more harm than good.
  • Woodall stated that the World Trade Organization (WTO) ruled against MCOOL back in 2015 and there is no mandatory program that will satisfy them. If a mandatory Country of Origin Labeling program were put in place, the U.S. would automatically be dealt $1 billion in retaliatory tariffs by Canada and Mexico.
  • NCBA does support a voluntary labeling program. “We believe the best way to do this is to focus all labeling programs on the USDA system that is currently in place,” said Woodall.
  • A petition was recently launched by R-Calf USA and it’s rancher members urging President Trump and Congress to reinstate MCOOL for beef, pork, and dairy products. This petition has gained over 250,000 signatures.
  • Senator Jon Tester of Montana and Senator Mike Rounds of South Dakota introduced a resolution last week requiring the U.S. Trade Representatives to enter into trade negotiations needed to implement country-of-origin labeling for beef.


Covid-19 could create long-term changes in the pork industry

  • According to Christine McCracken, RaboResearch senior animal protein analyst, pork processors have the labor to harvest, but they don’t have the people to harvest and debone and trim and work the Cryovac and get everything in a box and out to the retailer in the form they want.
  • McCracken says slaughter levels are beginning to normalize, however, the pork industry is still facing about 2 million hogs backed up at the producer level. The pork industry has also started to see some liquidation.
  • Through all of this, the pork industry will likely see an increase in efficiency by taking out the least productive animals and farms with ongoing disease issues.
  • Pork processing has been running about 75% of daily capacity.


Boxed beef prices update

  • Choice boxed beef: $404.04 (-$5.43)
  • Select boxed beef: $391.18 (+2.31)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for Wednesday, May 20, 2020


Trump floats halt to U.S. cattle imports as pandemic hurts ranchers

  • On Tuesday, President Donald Trump said that the U.S. should consider terminating cattle import trade deals to help America’s ranchers who have suffered due to the pandemic.
  • “I read yesterday where we take some cattle in from other countries. We have trade deals. I think you should look at terminating those deals,” Trump said. “We have a lot of cattle in this country.” President Trump did not specify which trade deals or countries he was referring to.
  • The U.S. imports cattle from Mexico and Canada to supplement domestic supplies at lower prices. If these bans are put into place, trade disputes could reignite.
  • Under the newly negotiated North American trade pact, both Canada and Mexico are allowed to import live cattle to the U.S.
  • “It was something I wish the president hadn’t said,” said Marty Smith, NCBA president. Mr. Smith attended and spoke at the event. He added that he hoped the comment by President Trump was a misunderstanding.


President Donald Trump addresses beef imports during NCBA White House visit

  • NCBA’s CEO Colin Woodall feels that President Trump’s statement regarding the termination of cattle imports shows the complexity of the U.S. beef business.
  • Woodall feels that if President Trump is serious about reconsidering import decisions, NCBA and it’s members would like him to take another look at his decision to allow fresh beef imports from nations like Brazil where foot and mouth disease is a serious concern.
  • Woodall went on to explain that international beef trade is essential to our industry. Undervalued cuts such as hearts, tongues, and livers are exported. Lean trim is imported for ground beef production.
  • Woodall closed in saying that it is more important for President Trump to re-examine the decision to import beef from Brazil, Namibia, and other nations where food safety and/or animal health concerns could directly impact American consumers and/or cattle producers.


U.S. Cattlemen’s Association respond to coronavirus food assistance program

  • USCA’s President Brooke Miller said on Tuesday that the organization welcomes the relief provided through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program as many farmers and ranchers are struggling with the economic pressure.
  • Miller went on to say that USCA greatly appreciates President Trump’s comments on the need to halt the influx of imported cattle into the U.S.
  • “Our nation’s strength lies in our ability to produce a safe, abundant, and affordable food supply. We need to preserve this food security by creating opportunities for U.S. agricultural producers to thrive,” said Miller.


Boxed beef prices continue to correct

  • Choice boxed beef: $409.47 (-$5.48)
  • Select boxed beef: $388.87 (-$6.00)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for Tuesday, May 19, 2020


Brazil’s JBS to take legal action to reopen poultry plant in Santa Catarina

  • JBS plans to seek legal solutions after a local labor authority ordered the company to close a poultry plant in southern Brazil to curb the spread of coronavirus.
  • The plant is located in the town of Ipumirim in Santa Catarina state. It employs 1,500 people and processes 135,000 chickens/day.
  • The plant was closed after an inspection by labor authorities under the Economy Ministry. The inspection “found serious irregularities, mainly related to the absence of safe distancing between workers on the production line and the lack of oversight measures to control the spread of the virus,” reported the prosecutor’s statement.
  • JBS responded saying that the closure was unjustified.
  • Eighty-six Covid-19 cases have been confirmed at the JBS plant. This adds up to almost 5% of the estimated 1,500 workers there.


Boxed beef prices update

  • Going forward through 2020, Covid-19 challenges are expected to restrict slaughter levels for the rest of the year. However, slaughter capacity is expected to recover in 2021. Beef production is also projected to be record high next year.
  • Beef imports were strong in the first quarter of 2020, but the forecast for the rest of the year has been revised lower on tighter expected beef supplies from Oceania.
    • Imports are expected to recover in the second half of 2021.
  • Beef exports reached record levels in the first quarter of 2020, but tighter expected domestic supplies and global economic uncertainty reduced the forecast for the rest of the year.
    • Exports are expected to rebound as much as 9% higher in 2021.
  • Choice boxed beef: $414.95 (-$19.37)
  • Select boxed beef: $394.87 (-$24.19)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for Monday, May 18, 2020


R-Calf urges opening of CRP lands to slow cattle supply chain

  • Last week, R-Calf sent a letter to Agriculture Sonny Perdue asking Mr. Perdue to consider opening 24 million acres of land enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP.)
  • R-Calf feels that opening these acres up would help alleviate the backlog in live cattle supply that has been caused by Covid-19 reducing slaughter.
  • The group estimates that our cattle industry currently has upwards of 500,000 fed cattle backed up in feedlots.
  • This proposal would allow producers to use their CRP ground for emergency grazing in hopes of potentially slowing down the live cattle supply chain long enough for the bottleneck between feedlots and packers to be eased.


Grocery store prices reach 50-year high amid coronavirus

  • Many consumers have been noticing increased prices at their grocery store, and they aren’t wrong.
  • Food prices saw their largest monthly increase in 46 years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • April Consumer Price Index:
    • Food prices away from home jumped 3.5% over the past year.
    • Between March and April, all categories of food have increased 1.5%.
    • We haven’t seen an increase like this since February 1974.
  • When it comes to meat products, consumers saw an increase of 4.5% in April


Beef market update

  • Last week beef production was estimated at 405.2 million lbs., according to the USDA. This is up 10.2% compared the previous week and 23% lower than a year ago.
  • Choice boxed beef: $434.32 (-$16.60)
  • Select boxed beef: $419.06 (-$18.34)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines: Friday, May 15, 2020


Cattle marketing options; Market to Market

  • Colin Woodall stated that more price discovery is needed in our cattle markets, and one component of that is for more cash trade.
  • NCBA disagrees with the 50% negotiated cash trade bill that Senators Tester and Grassley brought forward this week because they don’t believe that needs to be mandated by our federal government.
  • Woodall feels that this bill would put more of a burden on the cow calf producers rather than providing more opportunities


Tyson Foods to cut retail beef prices

  • Tyson reported earlier this week that some beef items sold in grocery stores, restaurants, and to other customers could be discounted by 20%-30% through Saturday.
  • The meat processing company feels this discount is needed in order to keep beef on family tables across our nation while our processing plants are facing reduced levels of production.
  • The price of beef increased by 2.6% in April. We haven’t seen that big of an increase from one month to the next since 1974, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • The discounts will be on chuck and round roasts, as well as some other ground beef products.


Boxed beef prices decline

  • Choice boxed beef: $450.92 (-$15.07)
  • Select boxed beef: 437.40 (+$.016)

Current Cattle Markets Daily Headlines: Thursday May 14, 2020


NCBA opposes government mandate restricting cattle marketing options

  • NCBA released a statement yesterday in response to the bill introduced by Senator Chuck Grassley and Senator Jon Tester that would require a minimum of 50% of a meat packer’s volume of beef slaughter to be purchased on the cash market.
  • NCBA feels that government mandates, like the one proposed, would arbitrarily force many cattle producers to change the way they do business.
  • The cattlemens organization feels that the bill being proposed would restrict a producer’s freedom to pursue various marketing avenues.


More Mexican beef headed to U.S. dinner tables as American supply crunch bites

  • To compensate for the beef shortage we are seeing here in America, Mexican steaks and other beef cuts are headed north. These shipments will hopefully offset the widespread shortages that grocery stores and restaurants are now facing, but American cattle producers are less than thrilled with this news.
  • These shipments were made possible by new safety measures being adopted in Mexican processing plants. Smaller scale plants have also kept up with processing demands and have been able to keep infections away.
  • Even before Covid-19, imports of Mexican beef were strong. Imports are now expected to see double-digit growth in 2020, according to Juan Ley, president of Mexico’s main cattle growers association.
  • In 2019, Mexico was the third largest foreign beef supplier to the U.S., with exports reaching 232,000 tonnes. The U.S. accounted for approximately 86% of total Mexican beef exports, worth $1.3 billion.
  • As we all know, here in America we have the four major beef packing companies- Cargill, Tyson, JBS, and National Beef Packing. In comparison, Mexico has 30 federally regulated processing plants of varying sizes.


Senators reintroduce COOL resolution

  • Senators Jon Tester of Montana and Senator Mike Rounds of South Dakota have come forward with a resolution to support Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling (MCOOL) for U.S. beef products. Senator Steve Daines of Montana, John Thune of South Dakota, and Cory Booker of New Jersey also joined with Tester and Rounds on this supportive resolution.
  • According to Senator Tester, MCOOL is needed for consumers to distinguish between high quality American beef, and lesser quality imported beef. He feels that MCOOL would give American cattle producers the upper hand by allowing them to showcase their quality product that was raised here within our borders.
  • Covid-19 has shown the importance of food security, transparency for consumers and food supply chain issues. Senator Rounds feels these reasons are enough to reinstate MCOOL. “This is not only misleading to consumers when they purchase meat at the grocery store, it puts our producers at a competitive disadvantage when marketing their products. This is a win-win for producers and consumers,” said Rounds.


R-Calf disappointed with resolution

  • R-Calf released a statement on Wednesday regarding the resolution proposal by Senator Tester and Rounds saying that they were disappointed with the proposal.
  • Currently, over 375,000 signatures have been retrieved for the petition urging Congress and President Trump to pass new MCOOL legislation.
  • Bill Bullard said this resolution wouldn’t provide U.S. cattle producers any relief from imported cattle and beef arriving from approximately 20 foreign countries.


Boxed beef declines for the first time in weeks

  • Choice boxed beef: $465.99 (-$9.40)
  • Select boxed beef: $437.24 (-13.73)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines – Wednesday May 13, 2020

Senators introduce spot market bill

  • On Tuesday, U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Senator Jon Tester of Montana introduced a bill to require each U.S. meat processing facility that slaughters over 125,000 head of cattle each year to purchase 50% of their weekly volume of beef slaughter on the open market.
  • A lack of cash negotiated trade in recent years has destroyed price discovery within our cattle markets. The fundamentals of the CME cattle futures contracts have also been negatively impacted.
  • If this bill is passed, the Livestock Mandatory Reporting system will be better utilized as a mechanism for accurate and transparent reporting.
  • Co-sponsors of this bill:
    • Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa
    • Steve Daines of Montana
    • Mike Rounds of South Dakota
    • Tina Smith of Minnesota
    • Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi
  • “We would like to thank the nearly 4,400 individual producers and state and local organizations for undertaking this truly grassroots effort in support of #faircattlemarkets. USCA will be calling on these advocates in the near future to continue pushing forth a workable solution,” said U.S. Cattlemen’s President, Brooke Miller.


Farm bankruptcies are up

  • Year-to-year farm bankruptcies are up 23%.
  • There have been more than 600 chapter 12 farm bankruptcies over the last 12 months. “That’s the third highest number we’ve seen in the last 20 years and while it’s still well below what we saw in the 80s, it’s still a very concerning trend,” said John Newton, American Farm Bureau Chief Economist.
  • Wisconsin has been hit the hardest with nearly 80 bankruptcies in a 12-month period. This is largely due to the struggles the dairy industry has faced over the last several years.
  • Following Wisconsin is Nebraska with 41 chapter 12 bankruptcies, and then Iowa with 37 filings.
  • These bankruptcies come as no surprise with farmers and ranchers dealing with depressed markets for the past couple of years. Now that coronavirus has wreaked havoc within our industry, we will start to see even more producers face this harsh reality.


Boxed Beef Update

  • Choice boxed beef: $475.39 (+6.81)
  • Select boxed beef: $450.97 (-$2.00)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines – Tuesday May 12, 2020



As U.S. meat workers fall sick and supplies dwindle, exports to China soar

  • President Donald Trump recently ordered meat processing plants to stay open to protect our nation’s food supply while plant workers were increasingly testing positive for Covid-19 and some were even dying. At the same time, exports to China have significantly increased, while U.S. consumers are facing protein shortages.
  • President Trump is now receiving criticism for putting plant workers at risk ensuring China’s meat supply is fulfilled.
  • China’s need for protein imports increased after African swine fever led to the death of half the country’s hog herd over the past two years.
  • “We know that over time exports are critically important. I think we need to focus on meeting domestic demand at this point,” said Mike Naig, Iowa’s Agriculture Secretary.
  • Daily slaughter of pigs has decreased by 40% since mid-March. All the while, American pork exports to China have quadrupled over the same period, according to the USDA.
  • China owned, Smithfield (the world’s largest pork processor), was the biggest U.S. pork exporter to China from January to March.
  • JBS has reported that the company has reduced exports to focus on meeting U.S. demand during the pandemic.
  • S. farmers have struggled financially over the past few years as they felt the affects of a trade war with Beijing. At that time there was an oversupply of hogs. Hog producers are now facing the reality of record high exports, pork shortages at the retail level, and a glut of hogs that can’t be slaughtered due to processing plant closures, which has led to euthanize of thousands of hogs.


Restaurant executives, meat wholesalers say shortages and price increases could continue throughout the summer

  • Meat distributors, grocery store owners, and restaurateurs expect to be dealing with limited beef, pork, and chicken supply through the 4th of July.
  • There is also an increased uncertainty in demand as restaurant owners are unsure if people will return to eating out as often as they did before the pandemic.
  • 1 in 5 Wendy’s across our nation has removed various items from their menu due to the meat shortage.
  • In Canada, McDonald’s is known for buying domestic beef, however they are now using imported beef to fill the shortage.
  • Analysts are expecting beef prices to continue to climb as restaurants begin to open their doors.


Senator Grassley: It’s time to analyze aid packages

  • On Monday, Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa was featured on Agritalk, hosted by Chip Flory.
  • Senator Grassley discussed how the government should analyze how relief aid packages are being used throughout our country.
  • Senator Grassley, along with 13 other senators recently sent a letter to Congress requesting additional funding for farmers on top of what has already been allocated through aid packages.
  • “Working with the Iowa and Nebraska cattlemen, we’re going to put in a bill that at least 50% of the slaughter of cows needs to be done by independent negotiations between a willing buyer and a willing seller, as opposed to what we’re up against now, where let’s say 80% of the market is contracted and there’s only about 20% out there for the independent producer. We need more of a market for the independent producer that we don’t have today,” he said.


Boxed beef update

  • Choice boxed beef: $468.58 (+$7.70)
  • Select boxed beef: $452.97 (+$3.98)


Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines – Monday, May 11, 2020


Bottleneck eases, wholesale beef marches higher

  • Last week ended with an estimated cattle slaughter of 452,000 head, a 6% increase from the week before. The same week a year ago, slaughter was at 667,000. So far this year, slaughter is 5.8% lower than 2019.


President Trump announces federal government will buy $3 billion in meat, dairy, and produce–570346351.html

  • On Saturday, President Trump announced that the federal government will be purchasing $3 billion of food from farmers. The buying will begin early this week.
  • These purchases will include dairy, meat, and produce that will be given to food lines and kitchens.
  • Many Americans are bracing for a food shortage. Some analysts are saying that meat prices could jump 20%.
  • In certain parts of our country, consumers are finding it hard to find meat in the grocery stores. So far we have seen Wendy’s temporarily stop offering some of its fast-food menu items, Costco has capped meat purchases at three items, and Krogers has also set in place a similar policy.


Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker join forces on bill to ban most factory farming by 2040

  • Senator Elizabeth Warren announced last week that she will be co-sponsoring Senator Cory Booker’s bill to phase out large-scale factory farming by 2040.
  • The Farm System Reform Act would prohibit new large factory farms from going into business and forces others to cease expansions before halting operations entirely within two decades.
  • Senator Warren’s support for the law stems from reports of unsafe conditions in the meatpacking industry that have arose due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • If passed, the law would place an immediate moratorium on new large factory farms (aka concentrated feeding operations, CAFOs.)
  • The law would also enforce MCOOL on beef, pork, and dairy products, while prohibiting the USDA from labeling any imported meat as “Product of USA.”


Boxed beef increases slightly

  • Choice boxed beef: $460.88 (+2.34) An increase of $83.43 on the week.
  • Select boxed beef: $448.99 (+$.42) An increase of $91.86 on the week.

Current Cattle Markets Daily Headlines: Friday, May 8, 2020

President Trump to Department of Justice: Investigate Meatpackers

  • Yesterday, President Trump asked the Department of Justice to investigate meatpacker pricing activity.
  • “I’ve asked the Justice Department to look into it. … I’ve asked them to take a very serious look into it, because it shouldn’t be happening that way and we want to protect our farmers,” the president said at a White House event.
  • All three national cattle and beef organizations, along with 23 state cattle organizations, many senators and others have asked that the DOJ help the USDA with the investigation they were already planning to conduct.
  • USDA has been investigating meatpacker pricing activity since last fall when the cattle markets took a nose dive following the Holcomb, KS Tyson meat plant fire in August.
  • Since Covid-19 has hit, boxed beef prices have more than doubled, while live cattle prices have fallen about 20%. These two instances have caused a massive gap between cattle producer and packer profit margins. This large gap has raised concern about possible price manipulations and other unfair practices within the beef industry.
  • The cattle industry is in dire need of some answers in a time when cattle markets are threatening to take many producers out of the industry.


Smithfield Foods to reopen Sioux Falls, SD facility

  • Smithfield Foods will take a phased approach to resume its operations. The harvest floor will reopen on May 11th and if everything goes as planned, the facility will be fully operational by late May.
  • The facility has been closed for three weeks now. It is one of the largest pork processing facilities in the country, representing 4%-5% of the US pork production. The plant employs 3,700 people.
  • The State of South Dakota is offering testing for the Coronavirus to all employees before returning back to work.


Senator Fischer Highlights Covid-19 Impact to Agriculture on Fox News

  • “Right now, we are seeing great prices for the packers. I understand that markets cycle up and down but when you have such a discrepancy in prices compared to the family farmer working on his ranch to produce that critter which is going to end up as a good steak, that needs to be looked into…We want to make sure we have a supply chain that works well for all participants—and we also want to make sure we have good protein on our shelves,” said Senator Fischer during the interview.
  • Senator Fischer was then asked, “Where do you think this investigation will end up? And what do we face as a country as far as the availability of meat on our shelves?” “The supply chain is working, we don’t want to see beef turn into a situation like toilet paper faced earlier during this pandemic,” said Senator Fischer.
  • Senator Fischer went on to say that we need some transparency within our processing sector and we need answers to know what is truly happening for the packer margins to be through the roof and at the same time, cattle producers are facing record lows.


Boxed Beef Continues to Increase

  • Choice boxed beef: $458.54 (+9.36)
  • Select boxed beef: $448.57 (+16.61)

Current Cattle Markets Daily Headlines : Thursday Morning May 7, 2020


USCA: Prioritize the U.S. Beef and Cattle Industry

  • On Wednesday, the United States Cattlemen’s Association sent a letter to Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue, emphasizing the prioritization of the US beef and cattle industry over foreign product during the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Bold and immediate action needs to be taken within our industry to avoid mass liquidation in the livestock sector. If action is not taken, it could take up to a decade to recover from these tumultuous times, or worse, we will be forced to import our food like we import so many other products to this country.
  • As Americans, we are used to a safe and steady food supply. As an industry, we must continue to consider all possible solutions to ensure that Americans can continue to depend on this for generations to come.


Proposed ‘Fed Cattle Set-Aside Program’ Surfaces

  • A proposal that would fund placing feedlot cattle on a maintenance diet for 75 days is being circulated in Washington D.C.
  • This proposal would seek to “alleviate the risk of massive economic collapse in the beef cattle industry.” The proposal was developed by the Beef Alliance and modeled after a set-aside program used in Canada after the BSE crisis in 2004.
  • This program was developed using USDA data and assistance from CattleFax.
  • The Beef Alliance is hoping to build support for the proposal from other cattle industry groups and members of Congress.
  • The proposed payment rate for cattle in this program would be fixed at $2.90 per head per day. This is intended to offset additional feed and operating costs incurred by holding cattle back from slaughter for 75 days.
  • The program is not intended to allow producers to recoup all economic damages. However, it will prevent massive economic losses throughout the cattle industry. It should also provide certainty and confidence in the food supply.


Boxed beef increases

  • Choice boxed beef on Wednesday, May 6th: $449.18 (+20.19)
  • Select boxed beef on Wednesday, May 6th: $431.96 (+21.25)


Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines : Wednesday Morning May 6, 2020


11 AGs in cattle country ask for Department of Justice Investigation into meat industry concentration

  • South Dakota’s Attorney General, Jason Ravnsborg and Attorneys General from ten other Midwestern and Western states are urging the Department of Justice to pursue a federal investigation into suspected national price fixing by meat packers in the cattle industry.
  • The need for this investigation stems from the four largest meat packing companies controlling 80% of the beef processing in the US, the shelf price of beef being incredibly high, and cattle prices are low and continue to nose dive.
  • “These activities should be alarming to all cattle producers and consumers,” said Ravnsborg. “A federal investigation is warranted to protect consumers and promote competition in the marketplace.”
  • While the packers are using their power to control the cattle markets and harming producers, they are also hurting consumers who are struggling themselves due to loss of employment and reduced incomes.
  • Ravnsborg stands with Attorneys General from North Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Colorado, Wyoming, Missouri, Idaho, and Arizona.


Wendy’s pulls burgers off menu in some locations due to meat shortage

  • Some Wendy’s restaurants across the nation have taken their signature hamburgers off the menu. Shortages have been reported in California, South Carolina, and Kentucky.
  • Wendy’s is warning that some items on the menu will be in short supply from time to time during this Covid-19 pandemic. However, the restaurant chain expects this to only be temporary.
  • Wendy’s has about 5,800 locations across the country.


Boxed Beef Increases

  • On Tuesday, choice boxed beef increased to $428.82 (+18.77). Select boxed beef increased to $410.54 (+33.88).

Current Cattle Markets Daily Headlines : Tuesday Morning May 5, 2020


Cargill packing plant in Schuyler shutting down due to COVID-19

  • The Cargill packing plant is Schuyler, NE is temporarily closing as it’s workforce deals with the impacts of Covid-19.
  • The company is shutting down in order to prioritize their employee’s health.
  • “This was a difficult decision for our team as we operate an essential service, but our values are guiding our actions,” North America Lead Jon Nash said. “Our focus now is continuing to keep our employees safe and getting our facility back to normal operations as soon as we can.”
  • The Schuyler plant lies in the East Central District Health Dept. where 331 confirmed cases were reported on Sunday evening. This district encompasses four counties.
  • Tentatively, Cargill plans to resume operations the week of May 18th.
  • This plant employs 2,200 people and processes 4,500 hd. of cattle per day.
  • The Schuyler plant is the third NE packing plant to completely halt operations. It follows Tyson plants in Dakota City and Madison.

Beef output in US much lower than plant shutdown reduced capacity suggests

  • America’s beef output has decreased at a more significant rate than what plant closings due to the coronavirus pandemic originally suggested, signaling that the current beef shortage could continue after processing plants reopen.
  • USDA reported that cattle slaughter dropped 37% this past week compared to what it was a year ago. This percentage is quite a bit higher than the 10%-15% that packing plants across the country have lost due to the pandemic.
  • Hog slaughter numbers are showing the same thing; hog slaughter is down 35% from a year ago, while plant shutdowns since the pandemic have only caused a 25%-30% decrease in slaughter.

Scientists Create Antibody That Defeats Coronavirus in Lab

  • This experimental antibody has neutralized the virus in cell cultures.
  • The antibody may help prevent and treat Covid-19 and related diseases in the future, either alone or in a drug combination, according to a study published Monday in the journal Nature Communications.
  • More research will be needed to see whether the findings are confirmed in a clinical setting and how precisely the antibody defeats the virus.
  • Experiments have shown that the antibody, 47D11, not only defeats coronavirus but also SARS.

Current Cattle Markets Daily Headlines : Monday Evening May 4, 2020

Kroger is limiting ground beef and pork purchases in some stores

  • A slowdown and closures in meat processing plants from the coronavirus pandemic has caused a new wave of panic shopping. Some grocery stores are now imposing limits on meat purchases to prevent empty meat cases.
  • Kroger, America’s largest supermarket chain, is adding purchase limits on ground beef and fresh pork in some stores.
  • As of last Tuesday, 20 meatpacking and food processing workers have died so far due to Covid-19.
  • Meat sales have increased by 40% in recent weeks, according to data shared by grocery industry trade group FMI.
  • Grocers aren’t expecting meat shortages, however, they are adjusting to the spike in demand and the difficulties securing supply.
  • The largest grocer in the US, Walmart is not expecting it will have to set product limits on meat. Instead, they are focusing on supplying the most-commonly bought meat products.
  • Smaller chain grocers are also being affected by the slowdown. In New York City, grocery chain Morton Williams’ co-owner Av Kaner said, “the most severe shortages have been with packaged cold cuts” because consumers are looking for pre-packaged items instead of meat from the deli counter. “Beef prices have increased the most, followed less so by pork and poultry,” Kaner said.


Workers’ union: JBS-Worthington plant to reopen Wednesday with new safety precautions;

  • The JBS plant in Worthington, MN is scheduled to reopen on Wednesday after it was shut down due to a sharp increase in Covid-19 cases last month.
  • The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 663 said JBS will open the “kill side” of the plant on Wednesday after an executive order from President Trump that mandated meatpacking and poultry plants to reopen or remain open during the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Social distancing will be enforced in the plant and in the common areas along with “frequent and thorough disinfecting” and daily communication with plant personnel.
  • Over the past week while the plant was shut down, nearly the entire plant was cleaned “floor to ceiling.” Eighty touchless sanitizer dispensers and 30 touchless water faucets were installed throughout the plant to ensure worker safety.


Boxed Beef

  • Choice boxed beef ended day at $410.05, up $32.60.
  • Select boxed beef ended the day at $376.66, up $19.53.

Current Cattle Markets Daily Headlines : Monday Morning May 4, 2020


Meat Giants From Brazil Are Ready to Cover American Shortfalls

  • JBS has come forward saying that they have America covered when it comes to meat supply shortages after numerous processing plants have shutdown due to Covid-19.
  • The CFO of JBS claims that the company can increase exports from Australia and has idle capacity in Brazil for beef shipments to the US.
  • “Our geographic diversification has been a natural hedge for trade barriers and sanitary issues,” said CFO Guilherme Cavalcanti in a recent webinar.
  • Minerva, the largest South American beef exporter, is also ready to meet US needs from their eight plants in Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay, according to their CFO, Edison Ticle.
  • Minerva’s sales to the US have been increasing since early April, when Covid-19 began to pose a threat to our domestic meat supply.
  • Last week, the CEO of Marfrig Global Foods, another Brazilian meat giant, said US demand for South American beef has strengthened since the onset of Covid-19. Marfrig ships beef to the US from three South American countries.
  • The United States reopened its doors to Brazil’s fresh beef back in February after a three-year suspension on the imports due to safety concerns. Brazil is allowed to export 60,000 metric tons a year to the US in a tariff-free import quota shared with other nations, according to Edison Ticle (Minerva’s CFO.)
    • Any shipments exceeding this quota are required to pay a 26% tariff, which is most likely still profitable due to current price differentials, claims Ticle.
  • JBS’ shares jumped 18% in April. Marfrig stocks climbed 42%. Minerva shares spiked by 50%.


Wasted milk, euthanized livestock

  • The coronavirus pandemic has caused a major disruption in our nation’s food supply chain.
  • Those in agriculture have seen financial hardships pile up over the past few years; the US-China trade war, rampant floods that wiped out entire harvests, and poor commodity prices.
  • Wasted products;
    • Farmers in Washington are facing a surplus of one billion pounds of potatoes due to the restaurant and school closures, according to the Washington Potato Commission.
    • At least $5 billion worth of fresh fruits and vegetables have been wasted, according to estimates from the Produce Marketing Assoc.
    • John Tyson, chairman of Tyson Foods, has warned that plant closures due to the pandemic will result in the loss of millions of chickens, pigs, and cattle.
    • Dairy farmers are currently dumping out as many as 3.7 million gallons of milk every day, according to estimates from Dairy Farmers of America.


Cattle producers bring Ft. Pierre packing plant back online

  • Thirteen investors are bringing a meat-harvesting locker in Ft. Pierre back online this month.
  • “We saw it happen in the 80s with the pork industry where the large companies controlled the kill space and over 400,000 hog producers were wiped out. Now in the cattle industry, there are four packers that own over 85 percent of the kill space. Major corporations want producers to become employees and we can’t have that,” said Kim Ulmer, one of the investors.
  • The updated facility is called US Beef Producers and has investors from Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota. The plant’s investors are all cattle producers, either feeders or ranchers.
  • US Beef Producers was able to secure a $100,000 loan at a low interest rate with the help of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.
  • Understanding and meeting the regulations required for a locker has been the toughest challenge; the manual of requirements is 503 pages long, said Ulmer.
  • The locker has a goal of harvesting 35/hd per week by Aug. 1st.

Current Cattle Markets Daily Headlines : Friday Evening May 1, 2020

NCBA Applauds Bipartisan Senate Effort to Provide Flexibility to Livestock Haulers

  • NCBA’s executive director, government affairs, Allison Rivera, released the following statement in response to a bipartisan letter from 24 US Senators to US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation Chairman Roger Wicker and Ranking Member Maria Cantwell.
  • “Now more than ever, we can see how vitally important it is for haulers to have the flexibility they need to get live and perishable goods to market as quickly and as safely as possible. Hauling livestock is inherently different than hauling typical consumer goods, and we continue to look for flexibilities within Hours of Service to safely haul livestock around this country. As we look toward an infrastructure package we are grateful for the continued support on Hours of Service flexibilities.”
  • Transporting perishable and live goods presents a unique set of circumstances. These laws need to be flexible concerning these goods.
  • Transporting these types of goods requires a commonsense framework for drivers, rather than a one-size-fits-all model.


Nine meat plants in southern Brazil face Covid-19 outbreaks

  • According to health authorities in Brazil’s southernmost state of Rio Grande do Sul, coronavirus has spread to nine local meat-processing plants.
  • Approximately 16,345 people who work at these meat plants have been exposed to the virus.
  • Coronavirus has been gaining momentum in Brazil. On Thursday 78,162 cases were reported, with 5,466 deaths.
  • There have been 124 confirmed cases of the virus among workers in the meat facilities, and at least one person has died from Covid-19 linked to the processing plants.


Estimated weekly meat production

  • Under Federal inspection for the week ending Saturday, May 2nd, 2020, total red meat production was estimated at 682.3 million lbs. according to the US Dept. of Agriculture’s Marketing Service.
    • 9% lower than a week ago and 34.9% lower than a year ago.
    • Cumulative meat production for the year to date was .4% lower compared to the previous year.
  • Boxed beef continues to shatter records
    • This morning’s boxed beef was reported at $373.85, which is $80.48 higher than last Friday’s close. And 108.26 higher than the previous high set on May 19th, 2015.


Groups ask DOJ to help investigate packers

  • SD Cattlemen’s Assoc. is among 23 groups that are currently asking that the US Dept. of Justice get involved in the USDA investigation into meatpacking pricing activity surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Eric Jennings (Spearfish, SD), the organization’s president, said his group is worried that without the help of the DOJ, the USDA investigation isn’t going to produce any results.

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines : Friday Morning May 1, 2020


Tyson Foods helped create the meat crisis it warns against

  • John Tyson, whose family reigns as the largest meat processor in the US, took out an ad in the Sunday edition of the New York Times this past Sunday, warning that the food supply chain is breaking.
  • A few days later, President Donald Trump invoked the Defense Production Act to keep processing facilities open.
  • In all actuality, the real problem goes back to decades of consolidation in the processing sector.
    • Tyson, JBS, and Cargill control 2/3 of America’s beef processing.
    • The bulk of this beef is processed in a few dozen giant plants.
  • Twelve closures of US slaughter plants in the last month have led to a 25% reduction in pork processing and a 10% reduction in beef processing. At the same time, beef prices at the retail level have surged.
  • Theses issues stem from consolidation.
  • The number of slaughter plants has plummeted by 70% since 1967.
  • Tyson clocks in an annual income of about $2 billion and its shares have surged 60% in the last 5 years, bringing its value to $23 billion.


Interviews with Bryan Reed and Shane Kaczor

  • Both of these gentlemen are concerned about the consolidation of the packing industry.
  • Both feel that an increased level of negotiated trade would greatly benefit the industry.
  • Kaczor said that rural America is in deep trouble if we don’t somehow find a way to solve our issues in the cattle industry.
  • Kaczor feels that the CME is broken and not a viable tool for risk protection.
  • Both gentlemen don’t quite understand why it is so difficult to reinstate MCOOL

Current Cattle Markets Daily Headlines : Thursday Evening April 30, 2020


R-Calf’s MCOOL Petition Gains 250k Signatures in 7 Days

  • Through a letter, R-calf is urging President Trump and Congress to determine if the packing industry should be decentralized.
  • Restricted market access, depressed prices for America’s cattle farmers and ranchers, lack of available beef in some or many American grocery stores, and record beef prices for consumers have revealed that the US must immediately begin the development of strategic, national food production, processing and distribution policy that can meet America’s food security interests
  • R-calf feels that food security interests are the most viral of all interests here in America.
  • The letter explains that the closure of one or two plants should not destroy the livelihoods of America’s cattle producers or disrupt America’s access to beef.


Grand Island Mayor Roger Steele, asking for Federal Assistance and U.S. Ag. Secretary Sonny Perdue to visit–570081611.html

  • Mayor Roger Steele of Grand Island, NE is requesting President Trump to provide adequate testing and continual testing for all those workers at the JBS plant in Grand Island.
  • There have been 1,100 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in central Nebraska, 37 deaths, with 10 of those deaths occurring on Wednesday.
  • “If you’re going to order a meat processing plant to remain open 24 hours of the day, then you should have dedicated testers assigned to that plant, rather than once in a while we have testers in our city,” said Mayor Steele.


Boxed beef continues to skyrocket

  • Choice boxed beef ended the day at $367.56

Current Cattle Markets Daily Headlines : Thursday Morning, April 30, 2020


Box beef is skyrocketing as the bottleneck at packers continues, though some relief may come after Trump declared packers essential to keep their doors open. Hopefully, they’ll be running at capacity soon so producers see some relief on the horizon.

–ShayLe Stewart, DTN Market Analyst


R-Calf’s mandatory country of origin labeling petition has gained 250,000 signatures in just seven days

  • R-Calf’s MCOOL petition was launched last Thursday, 7 days ago, and has already gained 250,000 signatures.
  • This petition is urging President Trump and Congress to immediately pass MCOOL for beef, pork, and dairy products.
  • Bill Bullard, R-Calf’s CEO, thinks reinstating MCOOL will strengthen national food security and help stimulate economic growth.
  • Kerry Cranton, Kansas cattle producer who, among several other grassroots cattle producers, was instrumental in launching the petition. “There is a handful of very powerful lobbying groups that have held the President and Congress at back on this critically important initiative and our petition clearly shows that our government has been misled.
  • Last month R-Calf launched a new website,, a free platform for cattle ranchers and farmers who raise and sell cattle or beef that is exclusively USA born, raised, and harvest directly to consumers. This website is rapidly growing; it includes 335 farms, ranches, and businesses from 41 states.

Bipartisan pair of senators request antitrust probe into meatpacking industry;

  • A pair of bipartisan senators are currently requesting an antitrust probe into the meatpacking industry.
  • Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri and Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin have asked the Federal Trade Commission to open an antitrust investigation into the meatpacking industry and it’s potential to cause significant disruptions in the food supply chain.
  • The senators noted that the beef industry is dominated by Tyson Foods, Cargill, JBS, and Smithfield Foods.
  • “Following a series of COVID-19 infections among plant workers, in recent days these oligopolistic companies have closed three pork plants indefinitely, resulting in the shutdown of a staggering 15 percent of America’s pork production,” the senators wrote to the FTC.
  • This letter comes a day after President Trump signed an executive order to keep processing plants open in an effort to prevent further disruptions of the food supply.
  • Both senators urged the president to exercise the same authority to investigate the growing concentration in the meatpacking and processing industry and any anticompetitive behavior resulting from this concentration.


South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association spokesman Eric Jennings said “It’s a terrible situation that we’re in with packer concentration. It’s a poor system, but I don’t know that there is any illegal wrongdoing. They have put themselves in a good position,” he said. The South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association joined 22 other state cattle organizations to ask the Department of Justice to get involved in the USDA investigation into packer buying activity in recent weeks. Tri-State Livestock News will provide more complete coverage of that story this week.


Smithfield plants in Missouri, Wisconsin and South Dakota that have closed due to coronavirus outbreaks.

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines : Wednesday Evening, April 29, 2020

USDA boxed beef daily negotiated sales report

  • Choice boxed beef climbed $16.98, ending at $347.80
  • Select boxed beef climbed $11.37, ending at 332.25
  • The last time boxed beef prices were close to this level (2014, and please note they were actually only at $300/cw, so we’ve surpassed them by almost $50.00), but that year fat cattle were selling for as high as $168.50.
  • Fat cattle today were traded close to half of that value.

Coteau Cattlemen step up

Beef Bucks: Cattlemen step up to the plate

  • The Coteau Cattlemen of Watertown, SD and surrounding area, have been trying to find a way to help surrounding communities during this pandemic.
  • With the donation from Hamlin Co. Livestock Improvement Assoc. and Pheasants Forever, Dry Lake, SD Chapter #485, the cattlemen’s group were able to purchase beef bucks to be given away to consumer to purchase beef.
  • These $5 beef bucks were given away on local radio stations by calling in to the stations.
  • Smaller increment beef bucks will hopefully help more people purchase beef during these trying times. Also a win-win for consumer and beef producer
  • The Coteau Cattlemen are finalizing plans to distribute more beef bucks with various food giveaways in the coming weeks and months to help those in need.; A phone call to the White House

  • NCBA’s CEO, Colin Woodall and NCBA’s President, Marty Smith, participated in a phone call today with President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue.
  • The White House is focused on keeping packing plants functioning, beef on the shelves, and beef available for export.
  • Meat Supply- Both Colin and Marty feel that the executive order put in place by President Trump will go a long way to make sure we don’t have a nationwide shortage of beef
  • The President remains focused on how this pandemic is affecting farmers and ranchers, and what we need to do to move through this tough situation.
  • Worker safety is a top priority for the White House.
  • “The focus of the White House is safety, but also to get this thing back to normal,” said Woodall in regards to processing plant issues. He is hoping to see some turn arounds within the processing sector in the next couple weeks.
  • “We are the only group representing cattle producers that were part of the call with the president this morning and we have been in contact almost daily with the White House and all the various federal agencies that continue to engage with Congress. So the NCBA team has been at work every single day since this pandemic started and we continue to make sure that the steady voice of NCBA is there to influence ALL those decisions that are being made,” said Woodall.

Current Cattle Markets Daily Headlines : Wednesday Morning, April 29, 2020

Trump orders meat plants to stay open

  • Trump signed an executive order on Tuesday that compels slaughterhouses to remain open.
  • This move by Trump is setting up quite the showdown between big packers and the unions and activists who are wanting to protect workers during this pandemic.
  • Despite packing house closures, Trump said in his order, “such closures threaten the continued functioning of the national meat and poultry supply chain, undermining critical infrastructure during this national emergency.
  • Environmental working group called this order a potential deal sentence.
  • At least 20 workers in meat and food processing have died, and 5,000 meatpacking workers have either tested positive for the virus or were forced to self-quarantine.
  • The White House decided to make this move amid estimates that as much as 80% of US meat production capacity could shut down.
  • Dairy farmers continue to dump milk that can’t be sold to processors, broiler operations have been breaking eggs to reduce supplies, hogs are being euthanized, and some fruit and vegetables are rotting in fields amid labor and distribution disruptions.
  • Low-income Americas have been waiting in long lines at food banks, that claim to have reported food shortages.
  • When asked about the country’s food supply, Trump responded, “There’s plenty of supply.”


America’s mass hog cull begins with meat to rot in landfills

  • The mass culling of America’s hog herd has begun as numerous shutdowns at processing plants have created a glut of hogs that farmers can no longer sustain.
  • Starting today, about 13,000 pigs a day will be killed at a JBS slaughterhouse in Minnesota, according to US representative Collin Peterson. But instead of these cuts being turned into ham and bacon, the carcasses may be dumped in landfills or go to rendering plants.
  • Estimated 160,000 hogs/day nationwide have to be euthanized.
  • Peterson went on to say, “Clearly in the meat sector we are going to have shortages. What I worry about is people are going to find this out and they are going to be hoarding it and that will exacerbate the problem.”


Boxed beef continues to hit records

  • On Tuesday, choice boxed beef ended the day at 330.82, up almost $19 for the day.
  • Select box beef ended the day at 320.88, up $22.10 for the day.

Current Cattle Markets : Daily Headlines : Tuesday Evening, April 28, 2020

Minnesota Ag Department helping processors and producers with pandemic challenges

  • Minnesota State Ag Dept. is helping livestock producers and processors address current challenges caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Agriculture Commissioner Thom Peterson claimed that prior to the pandemic some farmers were selling directly to smaller processing plants. Now with the pandemic, consumers have been purchasing directly from farmers 4-5 times more than normal.
  • Peterson said his dept. is moving up state inspections and starting grant programs to assist smaller processors. Peterson’s Ag Dept. is also developing an expedited process to enable plants that currently do not sell wholesale within the state to do so. If these establishments meet the minimum requirements, they’ll be granted a 90-day provisional grant of inspection.

R-Calf says 63,000 sign mandatory COOL petition

R-CALF says 63-k sign Mandatory COOL petition

  • More than 63,000 signatures have been collected urging President Trump and Congress to immediately pass Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling for beef, pork, and dairy products.
  • R-Calf CEO Bill Bullard stated that, “MCOOL will strengthen national food security and help stimulate economic growth.”
  • He went on to say that he encourages producers and consumers to sign the petition at

Cutout Soars; Futures Stabilize

  • Extremely small cattle slaughter is causing USDA cutout values to reach heights never dreamed of.
  • As of this morning, the choice cutout was quoted at an astounding $326, $120 higher than the low in February of this year.
  • Cash cattle prices have declined 22.2% thus far, which set a new low for the year last week.
  • Record high boxed beef prices coupled with low cattle prices have led packers to find themselves deeply in the black even though their costs have increased by 40%.

Current Cattle Market : Daily Headlines : Tuesday Morning, April 28, 2020


Farmers should act fast to receive economic relief

  • Congress recently appropriated $310 billion of additional funding to the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program and an additional $60 billion for the Economic Injury Disaster program. Funds are expected to only last 4 days.

New York partnering with state dairy producers to give excess milk to food banks, and those in need

  • New York’s Gov. Cuomo announced on Monday that New York will be partnering with state dairy producers to process and distribute excess milk to food banks and those in need. o This excess milk will be made into yogurt and cheese and then distributed to food banks and those in need.

Texas Gov. Abbott to allow stay-at-home order to expire on April 30th

  • Gov. Abbott will raise the stay-at-home order on April 30th
  • Opening the state back up will occur as a two-phase plan
    • Phase 1- All retail stores, restaurants, malls, and movie theatres will be allowed to reopen with 25% limited occupancy.
    • Phase 2- Set to begin on May 18th (barring phase one is successful.) Occupancy levels will be increased to 50%. Further increases will hopefully occur in the near future.

Market to Market

  • According to Market to Market, Iowa State University economists estimate a possible $.40 drop in the price of corn through the summer

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines : Monday Evening, April 27, 2020


Choice boxed beef sets record

  • $311.84


Tyson Foods releases full-page ad in the New York Times

  • Warning people that the food supply chain is breaking.
  • Tyson roughly employs 100,000 workers
  • Tyson closed it’s pork plants in Waterloo, IA and Logansport, IN so workers could be tested.
  • Pork processing plants have been hit incredibly hard since Covid-19; 3 of the largest going offline indefinitely.
    • JBS Pork Processing in Worthington, MN
    • Smithfield Foods in Sioux Falls, SD
    • Tyson Plant in Waterloo, IA
      • These plants combine to make up 15% of pork production.

South Dakota’s Gov. Kristi Noem, plans to reopen Smithfield Foods ‘in a matter of days’

  • Noem stated in an interview with Foxs’ Ed Henry, Noem claimed that she thinks the plant can open back up within a few days.
  • Over 800 people at Smithfield Foods plant in Sioux Falls, SD have tested positive for Covid-19. This makes the plant the largest hotbed for the virus in all of the United States.
  • Noem has yet to issues a statewide stay-at-home order. SD is one of the five holdout states; Arkansas, Iowa, Nebraska, and North Dakota.

JBS closes its Green Bay, WS plant

  • Employs 1,200 people. Linked to 189 cases of the illness.
  • JBS will continue to pay it’s employees while the plant is closed down.

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines : Monday Morning, April 27, 2020


Boxed beef hits record levels

  • Boxed beef reached $293.37
  • Just last week (the week of April 20th), this price increased $54.38

United States receives it’s first shipment of beef rom Namibia

  • This shipment included prime cuts, chuck, blade and trimming.
  • These exports come after 18 years of extensive negotiations between the US and Namibia.

Cattle on feed report

  • Placements reported at 1.56 million head, down 23% from last year.
    • These placements were the lowest for March since the series began back in 1996.
  • Marketing’s reported at 2.01 million head, up 13% from last year
    • These marketing’s are the second highest for March since the series began back in 1996.

MSGA joins other state cattlemen’s associations requesting investigation into cattle markets

MSGA Joins State Cattlemen’s Associations in Requesting Investigation into Cattle Markets

  • MSGA joined 22 other state cattle organizations alst week in sending a letter to US Attorney General William Barr, requesting a formal investigation by the DOJ into packer corruption, collusion, and manipulation of the cattle markets.
  • This letter was prompted by the fire at the Tyson processing plant in Finney County, Kansas back in Aug. of 2019 and most recently, Covid-19. Both events caused major disruptions in the cattle markets.

Jennie-O closes operations at Willmar, MN plants temporarily due to Covid-19

  • A pair of Jennie-O turkey store processing plants were closed in Willmar, MN after 14 employees tested positive for coronavirus.
  • Close working conditions and incentives to stay on the floor despite systems, allowed the virus to spread through the plant and communities.

Rally for Fair Cattle Markets in Omaha, Nebraska

Over the past decades, the American public has stood by and watched the destruction of the family-owned poultry and pork producers. A few large processing companies controlled the price and broke every one of the independent producers. Today the American cattle producer is standing on the brink of oblivion. If something isn’t done soon the ranching way of life will be gone and anyone raising cattle will be doing it for one of the multi-national companies who will control all beef from birth to plate. Someone should do something about it but we are always too busy ourselves, the time has come to act or be forced out of business.

This was the wake-up call issued at the Rally to Stop the Stealin’ held in Omaha, Nebraska on October 2nd in the Ramada Inn Ballroom. This event was sponsored by Organization for Competitive Markets. A variety of other groups were invited to attend and participate, including R-CALF USA, Family Farm Action, Farm Aid and a score of other groups and organizations. Close to 400 cattle producers and feeders from close to a dozen different states came to listen and learn. A number of OCM board members spoke stressing the need of reimplementation of Country of Origin labeling, and for the government to step in and investigate the fat cattle market manipulation and to take additional action to save the cattlemen. They are urging people to continue calling Washington, Tweeting President Trump and using social media to let their voices be heard.

Corbitt Wall, host of Feeder Flash and commercial cattle manager and livestock market analyst for DV Auction spoke in the morning to a full house. He used slides and humor as he stressed how we have lost all competitiveness in the fat cattle market.

Imploring cattle feeders to sell more cattle on the negotiated cash market rather than in formula contracts, Wall talked about his concern that the cattle industry will go the way of the hog industry due to the same vertical integration tactics being employed by the big packing companies.

Wall emphasized that for cattle producers to remain viable, changes might be necessary. “Sixty-five percent of our supply all on the same side. If you look at some of those cattle inventory reports, that says what half of the year your calves were born in, you always have more than 65 percent of them were born in the spring. It’s lopsided… We need to stop being idiots,” he joked. “You got to look at yourself in the mirror and try and think about some things you can do to change it up a little bit. We got to stop being idiots, look at ourselves and start doing things different.”

Wall acknowledged that some operations, in much of the country are not in a position weather-wise or labor-wise to calve in the fall, but drove home the point that all producers need to be educating themselves in order to capture as much profit as possible, so as to never become dependent on government assistance.

OCM board members David Wright, Mike Callicrate, Wes Shoemyer and Vaughn Meyer all spoke about the six issues that OCM has outlined as most important and in need of President Trump’s immediate attention.

Fred Stokes, the founder of OCM is a small purebred cattle producer from Mississippi. “I retired from Army Military Intelligence in 1972, having grown up on a small farm all I ever wanted to do was raise cows. At that time cattle markets were at record highs, money was easy to borrow and I borrowed a bunch. The bottom went out and they were worth 30 percent of what I paid for them. I owed more than everything I owned was worth. I worked years to get out of debt, I did it but I’m still mad.

“I’m 85 and I don’t have any skin in the game anymore but I feel that with the beef check-off we have been funding our own demise. People say, ‘Someone should do something but I’m all tied up.’ We all have to come together and put aside our differences to do something. We must preserve our independent, domestic cattle industry,” Stokes said. “We supported President Trump and now we are calling on him to fulfill his campaign promises.”

OCM board members Chris Petersen of Clear Lake, Iowa and Jonathan Buttram of Alabama related their own experiences as hog and poultry producers who were bankrupted and warned that the same fate is coming for cattle producers if things don’t change.

Bill Bullard, CEO of R-CALF USA, spoke at length outlining the issues faced by cattlemen. “We warn that if we lose the critical mass of those cattle producers, cattle feeders, auction yards and the other infrastructure that is needed to facilitate a competitive market, if we lose the critical mass it’s game over. Because your industry will be headed down the same path as your sister industries, the hog and poultry industries that are now completely controlled from either birth to plate or egg to plate by the multi-national meat packing industry…Our industry faces an impending crisis, a crisis that was emphasized by the Tyson Fire on August 9th… Today’s cattle prices are as much as 25 percent less than those five year averages. This is serious and something must be done to sustain the viability of our industry, while we address the broken market problem…The very worst thing this nation can do to America’s cattle producers today is to do nothing.”

“We are going to win this for ourselves and for our children,” Bullard said in closing.

Tatum Lee of R-CALF USA gave a rousing impromptu talk urging producers to join together and fight for their way of life.

She clarified R-CALF USA’s purpose as focused solely on the profitability and viability of the US cattle producer and explained that the group is not and has never been connected with the Humane Society of the United States, as some have said.

Al Davis from OCM pushed for the government to step in and work to fix the problem. “Farm and ranch families are facing a great extinction. If our government won’t stop the stealin’ now, the family farmer or hardworking rancher will be just a dusty memory in a Louis L’amour novel.”

“We must make sure the President understands our problem and makes a move to fix it,” Stokes said. “I’m very happy with the number of people who came and thankful to Corbitt Wall, Joe Maxwell, R-CALF and the others who pulled this thing off at very short notice.”

OCM did address their relationship with the Humane Society of the United States. The HSUS provides pro bono legal representation for its beef checkoff program transparency lawsuit. “Without them, there would be no lawsuit,” OCM stated.

After the meeting, OCM, via social media condemned “Mr. Corbitt Wall’s ignorant and bigoted comments” at the rally – apparently referring to jokes made during his presentation. Many meeting-goers took to social media to defend Wall and show appreciation for the information he shared.

OCM Board member Vaughn Meyer, a South Dakota Angus and Red Angus breeder, said he hopes this is just the beginning of new energy and cooperative mentality for the cattle production and feeding sector.

“It was a good rally, the momentum is building. It was a start to fixing our problems and we’re going to continue to fight for improved competition and profitability for the U.S. cattle producer,” he said.

Article originally published in Tri-State Livestock News, October 4, 2019


LAWSUIT: R-CALF alleges “big 4” packers are colluding to lower prices

R-CALF USA announced a lawsuit against the “big four” packers who, they allege, violated U.S. antitrust laws, the Packers and Stockyards Act, and the Commodity Exchange Act by unlawfully depressing the prices paid to American ranchers.

On April 23, 2019, the cattlemen’s group based out of Billings, said Tyson Foods, Inc., JBS S.A., Cargill, Inc., and National Beef Packing Company, LLC, and certain of their affiliates from at least January 1, 2015 through the present, conspired to depress the price of fed cattle they purchased from American ranchers, thereby inflating their own margins and profits.

Weinreis Brothers Partnership, Minatare Feedlot, Inc., Charles Weinreis, Eric Nelson, James Jensen d/b/a Lucky 7 Angus, and Richard Chambers as trustee of the Richard C. Chambers Living Trust are plaintiffs in the lawsuit, along with R-CALF USA (Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund United Stockgrowers of America). The plaintiffs feed cattle in Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, and Wyoming.

The suit will likely last for years, predicted R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard, and is intended to uncover some truths and data not yet known.

“We do not know if there is more blame on one packer than another,” said Bullard. “Our evidence and analysis strongly indicates that all four of them are engaged in coordinated activities that caused the artificial reduction in cattle prices.”

“For many years, Cargill has served as a trusted partner to American cattle ranchers, committed to supporting their family farms and livelihoods. We believe the claims lack merit, and we are confident in our efforts to maintain market integrity and conduct ethical business,” said Cargill spokesman Daniel Sullivan.

The suit seeks to recover damages for two classes believed to be directly harmed by the packers’ buying practices:

1. Anyone who sold fed steers or heifers from Jan. 1, 2015 through the present time to those packers.

2. Traders who transacted live cattle futures or options contracts on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange from Jan. 1, 2015 to the present.

Bullard believes cattle ranchers would also benefit from a court win because “the price that cow-calf producers receive is based largely on the expected future value of a fat animal, so stopping the abuse that occurs in the pricing of the fat animal will essentially free up competitive forces to provide economic rewards to cow-calf producers.”

The fed cattle market is the initial price discovery market for the entire industry, said Bullard.

The amount of damages sought is not yet known, said Bullard, but initial analysis indicates that fed cattle prices have been artificially depressed by 7.9 percent since Jan. 1 of 2015 through present, he said.

In addition to potential damages that would be paid out in the case of a court win, Bullard believes by the filing of the suit could result in better prices across the board.

“By virtue of filing the lawsuit we have put the packers on notice that we’ll no longer tolerate the unlawful conduct that we’re alleging in the complaint. That in itself should have a disciplinary effect on the marketplace. Additionally because of the awareness created by the lawsuit, there may be actions outside of this litigation that could resolve additional problems.

One of the illegal activities the packers use to artificially lower the cash market is purchasing cattle outside of their own USDA “reporting area,” claimed Bullard.

“We allege this is part of the conspiracy. The four packers would transport cattle uneconomically long distances – outside of the area they’ve tied their formula contracts to – in order to obtain cattle that are not reported in that pricing structure, and won’t elevate that pricing structure.” Bullard said this includes shipping cattle from Canada and Mexico in order to avoid affecting the cash market in the particular region the packer reports in.

By sourcing cattle outside of the region, and avoiding reporting regulations, the packers can buy cattle that may be higher priced, but because they aren’t reported, the official “cash price” in that region remains depressed. This not only results in artificially low cash deals but affects all formula deals in that region because they are based on the cash market, said Bullard.

“This is just the beginning. We have essentially taken a stand and said ‘we’re going to address this,’ and we’re in a forum where it will be addressed, in the judicial branch of government.”

The two firms representing the plaintiffs, Scott+Scott Attorneys at Law LLP (“Scott+Scott”), and Cafferty Clobes Meriwether & Sprengel LLP (“Cafferty Clobes”) specialize in securities and anti-trust law, and are working on a contingency basis, said Bullard.

JBS, Tyson and National Beef have not responded to a request for comments.

This article was originally published in Tri-State Livestock News, April 24, 2019

Cattle industry talks possible effects of GIPSA rule

While some see David preparing to hurl a stone at Goliath, others perceive a group of whiny kids expecting special treatment.

Just what is GIPSA, who does it affect and does it need to be updated? The answer, of course, varies drastically, depending on who is asked.

The Packers and Stockyards Act, passed by Congress in 1921, is administered by the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA).

Upon instruction from Congress, GIPSA wrote and released last month the “Farmer Fair Practices Rules,” two proposed rules and an interim final rule to update the Packers and Stockyards Act. The proposals are based on 2010 rules, some of which were never implemented.

The proposal includes three pieces, expected to primarily affect the poultry industry, but the cattle industry believes it will be impacted as well.

  1. According to USDA’s news release, the proposals will:
  2. Affirmatively establish the Department’s long-time position that it is not necessary to demonstrate that an unfair practice harms the entire market in order to prove a violation of the Packers and Stockyards Act. “Such overly broad interpretations have put family farmers at a disadvantage for decades when pursuing their rights under the Act,” said the release.
  3. Clarify what GIPSA views as practices that clearly violate the Act and would establish criteria to protect the legal rights of farmers. Establish criteria that GIPSA would consider in determining whether a live poultry dealer has engaged in a pattern or practice to use a poultry grower ranking system unfairly.

The first one listed, the interim final rule, is the cause of much debate within the cattle industry.

According to its website, GIPSA is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s agency that facilitates the marketing of livestock, poultry, meat, cereals, oilseeds, and related agricultural products, and promotes fair and competitive trading practices for the overall benefit of consumers and American agriculture. The agency oversees enforcement of the Packers and Stockyards Act, as well as some grain inspection regulations.

The Packers and Stockyards Act was implemented in 1921 to protect the cattle industry from the control exerted over it by five meatpackers who had control of 45 percent of the beef produced in the country.

Former GIPSA administrator J. Dudley Butler fears that the cattle industry is in the process of being “chickenized” or vertically integrated, like the pork and poultry industries have been. Four packers now control over 80 percent of the beef supply.

“The independent pork producer has all but disappeared,” he said in a paper, The Dismantling of Independent Farm and Ranch Agriculture.

Butler, who oversaw GIPSA from 2009 to 2012, said that updates are badly needed to protect independent feeders and producers.

“There is a reason that around 35,000 small to medium sized feeders have gone out of business in the last 20 years. When vertical integration zeroes in, it is on the concentration of the chicken house, the swine parlor, and now the feedlot. So the companies take over the feedlots through ownership, contracts or deals. Then the cow-calf person becomes a price-taker not a price-maker. He’s captured.” The cow-calf producer can’t survive without a healthy independent feeding segment, he said.

The third-generation Mississippi cattleman became so discouraged when Congress continued to refuse to fund its own directive for GIPSA updates that he stepped down from his administrative post in 2012. “If I couldn’t make a difference, I didn’t want to be there. I went there to try to help, to make a difference,” he said.

The current Packers and Stockyards law lists seven subsections describing specific behavior that is illegal for meatpackers. The first two subsections say that it is unlawful for a meatpacker to:

a) Engage in or use any unfair, unjustly discriminatory, or deceptive practice or device; or

b) Make or give any undue or unreasonable preference or advantage to any particular person or locality in any respect, or subject any particular person or locality to any undue or unreasonable prejudice or disadvantage in any respect.

A disadvantaged feeder can file suit – and some have, and won in the lower courts. The most well-known case, Pickett v. Tyson Fresh Meats (originally IBP), resulted in summary judgment by the judge against the plaintiff, even though the jury found for the plaintiff on all counts. The appeals court then agreed with the judge, finding that the entire industry wasn’t harmed, and essentially threw out the case.

“In the historic cattle trial, Pickett v Tyson Fresh Meats, Inc., Plaintiff cattlemen alleged that Tyson/IBP used captive (contracted) supplies of cattle ready for slaughter to manipulate the cash market, in violation of the 1921 Packers & Stockyards Act (PSA). After a five-week federal trial, the jury found Tyson/IBP guilty on all counts and assessed actual damages of $1.28 billion, which applied to a large but unspecified number of cattle, likely 10-50 million head. Justice for plaintiff cattlemen was short, as the trial judge set aside the Jury’s verdict – a rare but not unprecedented legal action – and entered summary judgment for Tyson. The Eleventh Appellate Court subsequently sided with the trial judge. In 2006, the United States Supreme Court denied without comment plaintiff’s petition to rehear the case, thus ending legal activities in Pickett v Tyson and effectively killing similar legal action pending under the same trial judge against two other major beef packers, Excel (Cargill) and Swift (ConAgra),” described Auburn University’s Dr. Robert Taylor in 2007.

Kansas feeder and United States Cattlemen’s Association director Allan Sents said that the new rules will remedy the case law precedent set by the Pickett case. “This rule says an individual producer or feeder can claim there has been an action or violation of the Packers and Stockyards Act and they don’t have to prove that the entire industry’s competition was harmed.” The new rule clarifies that long-held position that livestock producer cases don’t have to meet the same standards as general anti-trust cases, he said.

Sents said, as a feeder, he has reminded packers of the GIPSA rules when he believes he’s been treated inappropriately.

“There have been times when they have been able to assert their power and do something that’s not right and they basically tell you to take it or leave it. Then if you have the GIPSA rules to fall back on and point them out, it changes their behavior. I’ve seen that in two or three cases,” he said. “I think the rules are critical to maintaining market integrity.”

In the supporting documents with their December 2016 proposal, GIPSA administration states that the rule changes are not meant to limit alternative marketing agreements, he said.

GIPSA doesn’t expect any rapid effect on the market or on packer-feeder relationships, he said. “They indicate the actual interpretation of this rule would likely be done through the legal system and that may or may not happen anytime soon. They don’t anticipate any immediate change in buying practices,” he said.

Although the proposed rules appeared to be another of the Obama administration’s last minute actions before handing over the reins to a different party, because of the timing, this was not the case, said Butler. The agency was just unable to carry out the directive until 2016 when funding was finally available in the budget, he said.

And with the releasing of the rules came a fire storm of responses – some saying the rules will eliminate competition from the marketplace by eliminating value-based pricing, others saying the rules don’t go far enough to protect the independent feeder and – farther down the chain – the independent producer.

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association will submit comments urging that the rules be rescinded, said the group’s president Craig Uden, a Nebraska feeder and rancher.

“How it stands now (the proposed rules), it’s kind of a trial lawyer’s dream,” said Uden, who operates Darr feedlot near Elwood, Nebraska.

Uden worries that the rules will scare packers who are currently paying premiums for better quality cattle.

“Who determines what is fair and what is not fair?

“People spend money to buy genetics or carry out management techniques that will give them an advantage. Here (with these rules) they say there is no difference.”

The biggest concern among his group is that “there has to be no proof. Let’s say they are all Angus cattle but some are of better quality, here they say there is no difference, everything is created equal.”

Butler doesn’t believe this is the intent, or will be the result of the rule.

Litigation will be rare, he believes. “In most cases, if not all cases, the farmer would make a complaint to GIPSA and GIPSA would take over handling the complaint if it was legitimate,” he said. Complaints can be resolved through the agency, without litigation, he said.

A plaintiff would have the burden of proof, with specific parameters, said Butler. “It has to meet muster. ‘Unjustly’ – there is a reason that term ‘unjustly’ is in there. And there is a reason ‘undue’ is in there. Those terms further explain the terms that follow them. Unjustly discriminatory is not just any kind of discrimination. There must be a reasonable and legitimate business justification for the discrimination.

“That’s the bottom line. In no way does it do away with value-based marketing.”

In his commentary on the rule, the out-going GIPSA administrator said the 2013 rule update “does not prevent packers from offering quality incentives to hog or cattle feeders, and any vertical coordination among feeders and producers would be outside of GIPSA’s jurisdiction.”

Iowa feeder Eric Nelson believes there are many in his industry sector who need GIPSA’s  protection, and their fear of publicly asking for it is proof of their vulnerability.

The R-CALF member estimates that about 75 cattle feeders attended a recent cattle producer meeting hosted by Iowa Congresswoman Ernst, and a few testified as to their concerns in the industry. “Most of them were scared sh**less of saying anything for fear of retribution that the packing companies would quit buying their cattle. I told them I am a third generation Iowa cattleman and the fourth generation was with me. I explained that my sons won’t have a chance to be involved in the industry if something doesn’t change. I’m afraid too, but if people like me don’t come forward and call these things out, the next generation won’t have a chance. There were several that thanked me afterward, saying they were afraid to say the same thing in public.”

A cattle feeder friend of Nelson’s, after 20 years of dealing successfully with the same packer buyer, waited two months for a call back in 2015 when the market crashed. “When that buyer finally called back – put yourself in their shoes – all they knew was they had a bunch of fat cattle way too fat and they had to take whatever price was offered to them. That’s called limiting access.” That action was not an anomaly, Nelson said, but was common around the region.

“So now we fast forward 18 months. Bankers in feeding country were keenly aware this was going on. Now there are way more cattle contracted to packers than have been for years because a lot of feeders are scared that will happen again.”

The packer organizations say they need an organized, consistent, known supply of cattle, Nelson said. “But I’m selfish, I want to get all I can for my cattle. I want the packer to be in a situation, once in a while, where he didn’t buy enough for the next month. That causes a price rally and the price ends up being elevated for a few months.”

Nelson said about 10 years ago he testified before the senate ag committee about his real world experience. One packer would consistently bid him slightly higher than the others for about two years at a time, then, like clockwork, another packer would be the top bidder for about two years. The day Nelson testified to this, he sold a pen of cattle to a different packer while sitting in the airport. “Since then it’s been a rainbow, a pen to this packer, a pen to that packer. That’s anecdotal, there is no way to prove anything, but it’s that kind of control that makes me want to help the little guy any way I can.”

But Uden believes that feeders, himself included, will be discouraged from paying premiums for higher quality cattle because packers won’t reward him with premiums for those cattle, for fear of being sued for discrimination. “If I’m buying certain attributes of quality, if I’m looking for high choice cattle that feed really good – I’m going to get the same money as someone with lower quality cattle.”

Butler doesn’t expect unfounded lawsuits.

“I’ve been around farmers and cattlemen all over this country and they are probably the least litigious people in the world. I don’t know of one farmer or rancher who goes out and files frivolous lawsuits.” Ambiguity causes litigation. but clarity diminishes litigation, he said. “By putting these rules out there you’ve got the rules of the game, you know how you have to operate.”

Uden said that beef on the whole is perceived as a higher quality product than competing proteins, allowing it market privileges and a higher dollar value. “We sell our product because it is all about the quality, right? If everything is the same and markets tend to gravitate lower, then who’s making the money? Not the producer.” Uden believes that strengthening the GIPSA rules will remove competition from the marketplace, lower prices and give the packer a wider profit margin. “It would go up the chain, not down the chain.”

“I don’t want to throw the packer under the bus. If you were told you were going to get sued if you did something, you are going to play it safe. Why would you pay the guy that had above average cattle more?”

He doesn’t want the government in his business, he stresses, and believes the current law is sufficient. “There are ways to handle this, if you prove injury.”

Nelson said he believes the government exists, at least in part, to protect small businessmen like himself, not big corporations.

“Rural America has kind of laid their bets on President Trump. Is he going to come through or not?” asked Butler.

The industry will wait to find out if David is now better equipped to battle the giant or if Goliath is really just a figment of the imagination.

The comment deadline for the proposed rules and interim rule is Feb. 21. The president enacted a freeze on all rules released by USDA so the expected implementation date is unknown.

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AUDIO: Discussion with Mike Eby, Executive Director of Organization for Competitive Markets 

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AUDIO: Cattle Rancher Austin Snedden explains how the USDA has contributed to packer consolidation

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AUDIO: Cattle Feeder Troy Stowater explains NCBA’s voluntary framework to achieve robust price discovery

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AUDIO: Colorado Cattlemen’s Association Exec. VP, Terry Fankhauser, “The cattle industry tends to circle the wagons and shoot inward.”

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AUDIO: Dustin Aherin talks about his report, “The Case for Capacity”

Dustin Aherin talks about the need for additional packing capacity in the cattle industry. His recent report, “The Case for Capacity,” explains the benefits that come along with adding capacity and the consequences of not doing so.

VIDEO: Attorney Harriet Hageman, “The reality is that the U.S. beef and cattle industry is the safest in the world, we’re importing our problems.”  

Harriet Hageman discusses how the cattle industry is facing a monopolistic situation with the four big beef packers. She feels that this fundamental problem must be addressed in order to avoid vertical integration.

VIDEO: Trey Wasserburger, “The DOJ’s investigation into the big four beef packers is the industry’s only hope.”

Trey Wasserburger discusses how the industry needs to come together and get behind the DOJ investigation, as it is our only hope to save the industry. He also talks about Agri Stats, Inc., a data-sharing firm that has blatantly exhibited collusion in both the chicken and hog industries.

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