Daily Headlines for January 19, 2022

Farm Bureau wants bipartisan Build Back Better plan

According to the Hagstrom Report, the American Farm Bureau Federation is unlikely to support the Build Back Better Act unless it becomes a bipartisan piece of legislation.

Farm Bureau publicly opposed the bill that the Democrats hoped to push through the Senate under budget reconciliation rules until Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said he would not support it. Farm Bureau took that position even though the final version did not include the changes to stepped-up basis in estate tax law that farm groups opposed.

The last version of the bill included more than $90 billion that would be added to the baseline for the 2023 farm bill, but Farm Bureau objects to the fact that there no efforts toward bipartisanship in developing the bill and that it’s unclear how the money will be put into agricultural policy. The expansion of the baseline is not enough to warrant Farm Bureau’s support because they want to know how it would expand the baseline.

In a separate session, John Newton, the former Farm Bureau chief economist who is now chief economist for the Senate Agriculture Committee Republicans, said that if the Build Back Better Act passes, the Democrats plan to take unspent budget authority back and use it to increase programs under the farm bill. But Newton said the Democrats’ ability to do that will depend on the cooperation of whoever chairs the budget committees in 2023.


Farmers’ voices heard on WOTUS rewrite

According to FarmProgress, in the latest pendulum swing of water regulations, the Biden administration is undergoing actions to repeal and replace the 2020 Navigable Waters Protection Rule finalized under the Trump administration.

Farmers’ voices on the impact of any new rule were elevated in a roundtable discussion on Jan. 6, but the latest regulation, proposed in November by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, would repeal the 2020 NWPR, re-establish the definition of WOTUS to what was in place from 1986 to 2015, and broaden the federal government’s authority under the Clean Water Act.

Sylvia Quast, senior advisor to the assistant administrator of water quality at EPA, says the decision to return to the 1980s interpretation of what is defined as “waters of the U.S.” while also including considerations from 2001 and 2006 Supreme Court rulings was done to “avoid the ping ponging” for those who are dealing with the application of rules, and also for the regulators who are implementing the rules.

Quast says EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers proposed to return to the rules prior to that in 2015 when the Obama administration attempted to clarify what constitutes a water that was later challenged in the courts.

Stefanie Smallhouse, Arizona Farm Bureau President, shares that the 2015 rule was overwhelmingly opposed by those in the agricultural community because it further expanded the Corps’ federal footprint of jurisdiction and created a “complex matrix of qualifiers while weakening the farming and ranching exemptions.”

Smallhouse, as well as other agricultural stakeholders who shared their thoughts, identified the confusion returns with understanding what represents a “significant nexus” and is a concern that needs to be addressed in the current rulemaking efforts ongoing now. The Supreme Court dissertations included the significant nexus as a qualifier to what should be included in federal jurisdiction, but the Obama administration’s interpretation greatly expanded its definition of water connections to regulated bodies of water.

The case-by-case test allows the agencies to regulate ditches, ephemeral features, or low spots on farmland and pastureland that “have a more than speculative or insubstantial” impact to a navigable water. The test also allows the agencies to aggregate waters that are “similar situated,” enabling them to expand their reach, capture entire watersheds and make moving dirt, plowing or building fences subject to regulations.

Quast says the significant nexus test does not override the agricultural exemptions that are currently written into the original CWA, and that those involved in the discussion reiterated their desire to see those exclusions codified.

Scott Yager, environmental counsel for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, shares those exclusions for agriculture that are bipartisan that were included in both the Trump version as well as the Obama administration’s clean water rule contained specific exclusions for agricultural infrastructure and practices, specifically farm ponds, return flows from irrigated agriculture, and agricultural features that have historically been non-point sources.

While the proposed rule would retain a longstanding exclusion for prior converted cropland, it would also reinstate the original 1993 PCC definition, and require landowners to obtain a USDA certification to receive the exclusion.

Yager says the Trump rule did provide a robust definition of what is prior converted cropland, however this latest proposal does not. Without a clear definition, he warns it leaves interpretation to the agencies.

Yager said, “The fact that this proposal does not include the agricultural exclusions is concerning,” and added that it’s going to open the door for small producers, farmers and ranchers who have never been regulated by CWA to be. He says this could be avoided by demonstrating through clear exclusions and robust definitions of those terms in the final rule.

The comment period on the proposed rule closes Feb. 7, but Quast says EPA is aware of requests for extending the comment period.


 WA rancher sentencing moved to June 13

 DTN reported that former Washington state rancher Cody Allen Easterday is scheduled to be sentenced on June 13, after a federal judge granted a third continuance in a complex case that includes a guilty plea on wire fraud charges in a so-called ghost-cattle scheme and an ongoing massive bankruptcy case.

Easterday, who is also involved in an ongoing Chapter 11 bankruptcy dispute regarding the proceeds from a recent $209 million sale of his farm and ranch assets to pay creditors, had asked the U.S. District Court for the District of Eastern Washington for the continuance for sentencing in his criminal case.

Easterday, who was scheduled for sentencing on Jan. 24, could face up to 20 years in prison for defrauding Tyson Fresh Meats and another unnamed company of $244 million for buying and feeding hundreds of thousands of cattle that didn’t exist.

According to a declaration filed by Easterday’s attorney, the now-former rancher has been working to sell off property to pay creditors. However, an agreement could not be reached by creditors on how to allocate the proceeds from those sales. This has led to a lawsuit filed against Easterday, according to court records, which is set for trial beginning on April 28, 2022.

Chief Judge Stanley A. Bastian commented that he is not continuing this case for the convenience for Mr. Easterday, but for the convenience of the bankruptcy court.

Tyson opposed the continuance in the criminal case, saying in a brief filed with the district court that Easterday had “mischaracterized” his role in the sales, and that “rather than cooperating to maximize the recovery of Tyson, the defendant is actively working to hinder such recovery.”

On Sept. 22, 2021, the boards of directors of Easterday Farms and Easterday Ranches decided to file a complaint against Cody Easterday and other members of his family, wanting a court to declare the disputed real estate and related property belongs exclusively to the debtor estates and not Easterday or other family members.

Easterday and other family members oppose the complaint and argue some of the proceeds from the disputed properties are assets of individual family members. The family also opposes the bankruptcy plan, stating they “will receive nothing on account of their equity interests.”


U.S. meat production slows as Omicron hits staff and inspectors

According to Drovers, rising COVID-19 infections among U.S. workers have forced meat plants to slow production and the government to replace slaughterhouse inspectors.  Meatpacking, an early epicenter of the pandemic in 2020, is the latest sector to be disrupted by a surge in cases of the Omicron variant, which has also left airlines, hospitals and schools scrambling for staff.

Cargill Inc, a top U.S. beef producer, has already been operating a few plants at a lower slaughtering capacity, spokesman Daniel Sullivan said.  Less slaughter capacity reduces U.S. beef supplies at a time of booming demand and means farmers must keep cattle in feed yards or on ranches longer than they typically or ideally would. A sustained period of lower production could further increase high meat prices at a time of inflation fears.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated processed cattle are down approximately 6% from a year ago, matching January 3rd levels that were the lowest since October as beef plants operate with “skeleton crews” and slaughter cows back up the system.

Mark Lauritsen, International Vice President for Meatpacking at the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, said he has seen a slight uptick in COVID-19 cases – especially at plants that vaccinated workers early last spring but have not made a push for booster shots.

The union has asked meat processors to reinstate monitors who ensure plant workers stay distanced, as Reuters reported many companies have relaxed safety protocols.


 APHIS seizes nearly a ton of illegal animal products from China found in New York City

USDA reported that during the past three months, from October to December, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s (APHIS) Smuggling Interdiction and Trade Compliance (SITC) program seized and destroyed more than 1,900 pounds of prohibited pork, poultry, and ruminant products from New York City-area retailers.

These items were sourced from China, lacked required import permits and health certificates, and therefore are considered a risk of introducing invasive plant and animal pests and diseases into the United States.

SITC anti-smuggling efforts prevent the establishment of invasive plant and animal pests and diseases, while maintaining the safety of our ecosystems and natural resources.

The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is concerned about these prohibited products because China is a country affected by African swine fever (ASF), Classical swine fever, Newcastle disease, Foot-and-mouth disease, highly pathogenic avian influenza, and swine vesicular disease.

ASF is of particular concern because the highly contagious and deadly viral disease that affects both domestic and feral swine of all ages has recently spread throughout China and Asia, as well as within parts of the European Union. Most recently, ASF was confirmed in pigs in the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

ASF is not a threat to human health, but it is a deadly swine disease swine that would have a significant impact on U.S. pork producers, their communities and export markets if discovered in the U.S.

Daily Headlines for January 18, 2022

China 2021 pork output leaps 29%, recoups most of production lost to swine fever

Reuter’s reported that China’s 2021 pork output jumped 29% from the previous year, recouping most of the production lost during a devastating outbreak of African swine fever two years before.

Annual output reached 52.96 million tons last year, just below the 53.4 million tons produced in 2017, the year before the hog disease began killing pigs across the world’s top pork producer. The disease had wiped out about half of breeding farms by 2019.

The recovery comes after Beijing called for an urgent resumption in pork production in mid-2019 and released subsidies to support breeders, triggering a wave of investment in new, large-scale farms. The rebound in output has come earlier than many had predicted.

The numbers from the National Bureau of Statistics were in line with expectations and point to a growing oversupply that has weighed on prices since mid-2021.

While pork production is back to “normal” levels, demand is still weak due to frequent COVID-19 outbreaks.


Farm-to-school efforts ramp up in North Dakota

According to the North Dakota Department of Agriculture, students at Fargo Public Schools will be dining on North Dakota raised and processed beef after a coordinated effort between the Independent Beef Association of North Dakota (I-BAND), the North Dakota Department of Agriculture (NDDA) and the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction (NDDPI) through the state’s Farm to School program.

The three organizations worked collaboratively to start a coordinated effort through the Farm to School program to encourage North Dakota beef producers to sell to schools. After details were worked out, Fargo Public Schools purchased an initial order of 900 pounds of North Dakota beef from local beef processer, South 40 Beef (Mott, ND).

Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring said, “School lunch programs can help local economies and the state’s economy by buying locally produced and processed foods such as beef, and that serving North Dakota food products grown and raised by our farmers and ranchers and processed by local businesses helps students learn where their food comes from.”


Interstate Meat Dist. Inc. recalls ground beef products due to possible E. Coli contamination

According to the US Dept. of Food Safety and Inspection Service, Interstate Meat Dist. Inc. is recalling approximately 28,356 pounds of ground beef products that may be contaminated with E. coli.

The raw, ground beef items were produced on Dec. 20, 2021, and the products subject to recall bear establishment number “EST. 965” inside the USDA mark of inspection or printed next to the time stamp and use or freeze by date. These items were shipped to retail locations in Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

The issue was reported to FSIS after a retail package of ground beef was purchased and submitted to a third-party laboratory for microbiological analysis and the sample tested positive for E. coli O157:H7.  FSIS conducted an assessment of the third-party laboratory’s accreditation and methodologies and determined the results were actionable.

FSIS is concerned that some product may be in consumers’ refrigerators or freezers, and urges consumers who have purchased these products not to consume them.


India to allow in imports of U.S. pork and products, U.S. officials say

Reuters reported that India has agreed to allow imports of U.S. pork and pork products, removing a longstanding barrier to U.S. agricultural trade.

Vilsack said Washington was working to ensure the U.S. pork industry could start shipping products to India as soon as possible, and that the deal marked the culmination of two decades of seeking market access for U.S. pork to India.

In 2020, the United States was the world’s third-largest pork producer and second-largest exporter, with global sales of pork and pork products valued at $7.7 billion.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met President Joe Biden in Washington last September and both leaders agreed to expand trade ties to strengthen relations between the world’s largest and richest democracies, but India is still pressing for restoration of its beneficiary status under the Generalized System of Preferences, the U.S. program that provides some tariff-free access for imports from developing countries that expired at the end of 2020.

Daily Headlines for January 12, 2022

USDA announces increased funding to support school meals and to help continue serving healthy meals to kids

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Friday an adjustment in school meal reimbursements to help schools continue to serve children healthy and nutritious meals. This move will put an estimated $750 million more into school meal programs across the nation this year, making sure federal reimbursements keep pace with food and operational costs, while ensuring children continue to receive healthy meals at school.

School lunch reimbursement rates usually do not increase during the school year. However, this year, due to the pandemic, USDA allowed schools to benefit from the highest rates available, which are normally reserved for the USDA Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). By law, these summer rates adjust for inflation annually in January.

This adjustment is well-timed to ensure the purchasing power of schools keeps pace with the cost of living. Schools receiving these reimbursement rates can stretch their operating budgets further during these tough times, while giving families fewer meal expenses to worry about each school day.

At the start of the 2021-2022 school year, the SFSP lunch reimbursement rate for participating schools was already 15% higher than the standard reimbursement for a free lunch. Now, because of higher food costs and other circumstances, schools will receive an additional 25 cents per lunch. Taken together, schools are receiving 22% more for school lunches than they would under normal conditions.

This action is part of USDA and the Biden-Harris Administration’s joint effort to ensure school meal programs are strong and have the assistance they need to navigate current challenges.

According to USDA, the Biden-Harris Administration is working to place greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy, and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America.


Ranch group recognizes progress but skeptical of White House action plan

A week ago Monday, the Biden-Harris Administration announced an “Action Plan for a Fairer, More Competitive, and More Resilient Meat and Poultry Supply Chain.”

According to R-CALF USA the plan includes massive amounts of government funding intended to slowly rebuild the now dismantled competitive marketing channels for cattle and beef, which has created what the administration calls a “bottleneck” in the nation’s food supply chain.

R-CALF CEO Bill Bullard said the funding announced in the plan should help increase both the number of marketing channels for America’s cattle farmers and ranchers as well as distribution channels for America’s consumers.

“We recognize that this level of government involvement is unprecedented, and that it’s critical for reversing the decades of inattention, neglect and denial that facilitated the elimination of competition in our U.S. cattle industry,” he said.

But Bullard said his group remains skeptical about the plan’s strategy for addressing decades of nonenforcement of U.S. antitrust laws and the 100-year-old Packers and Stockyards Act.

He said his organization waited for years and by 2019 it was clear the government was disinclined to protect the cattle industry from alleged packer buying practices that R-CALF alleged were harming America’s cattle producers in the group’s private antitrust lawsuit filed against the largest packers in April of that year.

“Our nation’s cattle industry is in a serious crisis and while we appreciate the administration’s plans to write rules with which to implement portions of the Packers and Stockyards Act, correct the exploitive “Product of USA” beef label, and increase market transparency by requiring more information, as well as its attempt to identify any new, potential violations of competition laws, the fact remains that the administration has not announced that it will take decisive enforcement action to protect America’s cattle producers from the harms they’ve been experiencing for the past seven years, and we remain disappointed with that omission,” Bullard concluded.


Meat Institute says Biden plan won’t help producers or consumers

Drovers reported the Biden Administration’s $1 billion Action Plan unveiled last Monday to aid farmers, ranchers and consumers would do none of the above according to the North American Meat Institute.

The Meat Institute’s president and CEO Julia Anna Potts said the Biden Administration “continues to ignore the number one challenge to meat and poultry production: labor shortages.”

According to Potts, for the third time in six months, President Joe Biden and his Administration announced the same plans to spend $1 billion to fund government intervention in the market in an attempt to increase prices livestock producers receive while blaming inflation on private industry.

She also said the Biden Administration has “refused to engage with the packing and processing sector they attack, going so far as to hold a roundtable on meat packing without a single beef or pork packer present, and that press conferences and using taxpayer dollars to establish government-sponsored packing and processing plants will not do anything to address the lack of labor at meat and poultry plants and spiking inflation across the economy.

“The Administration wants the American people to believe that the meat and poultry industry is unique and not experiencing the same problems causing inflation across the economy, like increased input costs, increased energy costs, labor shortages and transportation challenges” said Potts.

She also noted cattle producers are currently seeing higher prices because packers have processed the backlog of animals in the system.

The Meat Institute says Biden’s new Action Plan raises several questions, including:

  • How much extra packing plant capacity does the administration think is needed?
  • How high should cattle prices be right now?
  • How long will the government sponsored processors receive government money?
  • How much will the government sponsored processors be required to pay employees?
  • There are many small and medium sized packers in the market today that have never received government support – how will they be affected by the influx of government-sponsored competition?
  • When will these new plants come on-line? 2024-2025?  What impact will that have now?
  • Where are the target areas these plants are needed?
  • Will the new plants have sufficient labor?

The Meat Institute says the White House believes industry structure is keeping cattle prices low, conveniently ignoring the fact the beef industry has changed little for almost 30 years, and that prices reflect supply and demand in a healthy market.


JBS finalizes deal to buy pork processor Rivalea

According to ABC, JBS has finalized a deal to buy the leading Australian pork processing company known as Rivalea

The deal was opposed by farmers concerned about a loss of competition, but it was approved by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB), giving JBS control of three of the four export pork abattoirs in southern Australia.

Smaller pork producers said the deal could make it harder for them to get their livestock processed at the Diamond Valley Pork plant which Rivaela is a majority shareholder of.

The ACCC, however, felt it was unlikely JBS would profit from that and ultimately raised no objections to the proposal.

JBS declined to comment about the sale but, in a statement, said it would continue to provide kill services at Diamond Valley Pork for current customers and also grow the customer base.


World food prices hit 10-year high in 2021

Reuters reported that world food prices jumped 28% in 2021 to their highest level in a decade and that hopes for a return to more stable market conditions this year are slim.

The Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) food price index, which tracks the most globally traded food commodities, averaged 125.7 points in 2021, the highest since 131.9 in 2011.

The monthly index eased slightly in December but had climbed for the previous four months in a row, reflecting harvest setbacks and strong demand over the past year.

Higher food prices have contributed to a broader surge in inflation as economies recover from the coronavirus crisis and the FAO has warned that the higher costs are putting poorer populations at risk in countries reliant on imports.

In its latest update, the food agency was cautious about whether price pressures might abate this year.

A surge in the price of fertilizers, linked in turn to spiraling energy prices, has ramped up the cost of so-called inputs used by farmers to produce crops, raising doubts over yield prospects for next year’s harvests.

Daily Headlines for January 5, 2021

FSIS issues public health alert for ineligible imported meat and poultry products from China


The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has issued a public health alert for an undetermined amount of imported meat and poultry products from China.

A recall has not been requested because FSIS has been unable to identify and contact the importers, but the investigation does remain ongoing as the total amount of ineligible product is still undetermined.

The meat and poultry products of concern do not identify an eligible establishment number on their packaging and were not presented to FSIS for import reinspection. These products are ineligible to import into the U.S., making them unfit for human consumption.

The problem was identified through an investigation with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) – both of which FSIS will continue working with throughout the investigation.

There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products, but retailers who have purchased the products are urged not to sell them, and consumers are asked to dispose of any products they may have purchased by double bagging them to reduce the possibility of animals accessing the products as USDA cannot confirm whether the products were properly heated to control pathogens that affect domestic livestock.


Hy-Vee, Kroger and other U.S. retailers accuse pork processors of price fixing


According to AgWeb, several major U.S. supermarket chains and a food distributor filed a federal lawsuit last week accusing pork processors of conspiring to fix pork prices from at least 2009 in a suit similar to other litigation facing pork and poultry companies for the last few years.

In the suit filed in the Northern District of California on Dec. 28, the plaintiffs accused the processors and their affiliates of working with Indiana Packers Corp. to “fix, raise, maintain and stabilize the price of pork” in U.S. markets in violation of the Sherman Act.

Clemens Food Group, Hormel Foods Corp., JBS USA, Seaboard Foods, Smithfield Foods Inc., Triumph Foods and Tyson Foods Inc. allegedly controlled the production and supply of pork in a coordinated effort to minimize production and boost prices by lowering the number of hog farms in operation by 70%, the suit said.

Kroger and the other plaintiffs are seeking damages “to the maximum extent allowed under law,” attorney’s fees and costs, and other relief.


Judges send Tyson workers’ virus lawsuit back to state court


According to US News, a federal appeals court has ruled that Tyson Foods can’t claim it was operating under the direction of the federal government when it tried to keep its processing plants open as the coronavirus spread rapidly within them during the early days of the pandemic.

So the Des Moines Register reports that a lawsuit filed by several families of four workers who died after contracting COVID-19 while working at Tyson’s pork processing plant in Waterloo will be heard in state court after the families allege that Tyson’s actions contributed to the deaths.

Tyson had sought to move the case to federal court because it said federal officials wanted it to keep its plants running. The company cited an executive order former President Donald Trump signed that designated meat processors as essential infrastructure.

“The fact that an entity — such as a meat processor — is subject to pervasive federal regulation alone is not sufficient to confer federal jurisdiction,” Judge Jane Kelly wrote in the decision.

The court also noted that Trump’s order was signed in late April 2020 after many of its workers were infected, before in total more than 1,000 Tyson workers at the Waterloo plant tested positive for the virus that spring and at least six died.

Tyson spokesman Gary Mickelson said the Springdale, Arkansas-based company is disappointed in the court ruling, but he defended the steps Tyson took to keep workers safe during the pandemic.


Biden-Harris Administration will dedicate $1 billion in American Rescue Plan funds for expansion of independent processing capacity


The USDA reviewed nearly 450 comments received over the summer in response to its request for input on how best to increase independent processing capacity. Through their analysis of stakeholder input, USDA identified an urgent need to:

  • Expand and diversify meat and poultry processing capacity;
  • Increase producer income;
  • Provide producers an opportunity to have ownership in processing facilities;
  • Create stable, well-paying jobs in rural regions;
  • Raise the bar on worker health, safety, training, and wages for meatpacking jobs;
  • Spur collaboration among producers and workers;
  • Prompt state, tribal, and private co-investment; and
  • Provide consumers with more choices.

To these ends, USDA has increased available funding and is releasing new program details to support the meat and poultry supply chain. Specifically, the Biden-Harris Administration will:

Expand independent processing capacity

  • Increase competition and create more options for producers and consumers in the near-term by jump-starting independent processing projects that will increase competition and enhance the resiliency of the food supply chain. This new processing capacity will build momentum in a currently concentrated market. For example, 50 beef slaughter plants owned by just a handful of companies currently process nearly all the cattle in the United States. USDA will provide gap financing grants totaling up to $375 million for independent processing plant projects that fill a demonstrated need for more diversified processing capacity.
    • USDA will publish a Request for Proposals for Phase I of this initiative this Spring. Phase I will invest approximately $150 million to jump-start an estimated 15 projects, focused on deploying financial support for projects with the greatest near-term impact. USDA will deploy an additional $225 million to support additional projects in Phase II, which will open in Summer 2022. USDA will also ensure these funds truly expand capacity outside the largest meat and poultry processors, funding only independent operations.
  • Strengthen the financing systems for independent processors. USDA will work with lenders to make more capital available to independent processors that need credit. To address the credit access gap, USDA will deploy up to $275 million in partnership with lenders that will, in turn, provide loans and other support to businesses at rates and on terms that increase access to long-term, affordable capital. USDA will solicit applications from potential partners by Summer 2022, with an initial focus on lenders that provide financing in underserved communities.
  • Back private lenders that invest in independently owned food processing and distribution infrastructure. From cold storage to specialized equipment, building a more distributed and resilient food system requires independent producers to have access to food processing and distribution infrastructure that enables them to move their product throughout the supply chain. To assist in the financing of this infrastructure, USDA has deployed $100 million in American Rescue Plan funds, to make more than $1 billion in guaranteed loans available immediately. Applications for these guaranteed loans will be accepted until funds are expended; more information on how to apply can be found here.

Support workers and the independent processor industry

  • Build a pipeline of well-trained workers and support safe workplaces with fair wages. New and expanded meat and poultry processing facility capacity will create new job opportunities in rural communities. Building a well-trained workforce and ensuring that meat and poultry processing jobs are safe requires dedicated attention and investment. USDA will dedicate $100 million to support development of a well-trained workforce, safe workplaces, and good-paying, quality jobs by working closely with partner organizations, including labor unions, with expertise in workforce development and worker health and safety.
  • Promote innovation and lower barriers to entry via publicly accessible expert knowledge. Meat and poultry processing is a complex and technical sector that requires strict adherence to a host of environmental, food safety, and worker safety requirements. Creating new business models that support both workers and producers is similarly complex and time-intensive. At the same time, processors need access to new and emerging innovative practices and technologies. USDA will invest an estimated $50 million in technical assistance and research and development to help independent business owners, entrepreneurs, producers, and other groups, such as cooperatives and worker associations, create new capacity or expand existing capacity.
  • Provide $100 million in reduced overtime inspection costs to help small and very small processing plants keep up with unprecedented demand. With bipartisan support in Congress, USDA is reducing the financial burden of overtime and holiday inspection fees for small and very small poultry, meat, and egg processing plants, by 30 percent and 75 percent respectively, which provide farmers and ranchers with local alternatives to process livestock and poultry.
  • In addition to the above investments from the American Rescue Plan, USDA has made $32 million in grants to 167 existing meat and poultry processing facilities to help them reach more customers by becoming Federally inspected through the Meat and Poultry Inspection Readiness Grants Program. With this grant funding, meat and poultry processing businesses can cover the costs for improvements, such as expanding existing facilities, modernizing processing equipment, and meeting packaging, labeling, and food safety requirements needed to achieve a Federal Grant of Inspection under the Federal Meat Inspection Act or the Poultry Products Inspection Act, or to operate under a state’s Cooperative Interstate Shipment program. These changes will allow these facilities to serve more customers in more markets. An additional round of funding for this program will be made available through a forthcoming Request for Applications.

The Biden-Harris Administration will strengthen the rules that protect farmers, ranchers, and consumers. Specifically, in 2022, the Biden-Harris Administration will:

  • Issue new, stronger rules under the Packers and Stockyards Act—the law designed to combat abuses by the meatpackers and processors. The law was systematically weakened by the Trump Administration USDA, and in the Biden Administration, USDA has already begun work on three proposed rules to provide greater clarity and strengthen enforcement under the Act. USDA is also currently working with the Federal Trade Commission to prepare a report on access to retail and competition’s role in protecting new market entrants in meat processing.
  • Issue new “Product of USA” labeling rules so that consumers can better understand where their meat comes from. Under current labeling rules, meat can be labeled “Product of USA” if it is only processed here—including when meat is raised overseas and then merely processed into cuts of meat here. We believe this could make it hard for American consumers to know what they are getting. USDA has already begun its top-to-bottom review of the current labeling rules and consumers’ understanding of the labels, with the goal of new rulemaking to clarify “Product of USA” standards.


Daily Headlines for December 21, 2021

According to AgWeb, a mistrial has been declared by a federal judge in Denver overseeing the trial of 10 current and former chicken company executives facing the possibility of prison and million-dollar fines after being charged with price-fixing and bid-rigging from 2012 to early 2019.

Jurors told U.S. District Judge Philip Brimmer on Thursday they were deadlocked after a seven-week trial of men who had worked for U.S. chicken producers, including Tyson Foods Inc., Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. and Perdue Farms LLC, failing to reach a verdict after almost four days of deliberations.

The Justice Department had brought the suit, and the trial was the first after a years-long investigation into the $95 billion chicken market.

The Denver jury was asked to decide whether the defendants agreed to coordinate pricing and bids to limit competition. But the jurors weren’t able to agree on a verdict, even after Judge Brimmer on Wednesday instructed them to keep trying to work through their impasse. The judge set a retrial in February after prosecutors said they will go forward with the case, while each of the defendants face a single charge of conspiring to restrain trade.


According to DTN, a pair of Cabinet secretaries have written to the world’s largest ocean carriers demanding they treat U.S. agricultural exports fairly at West Coast ports and “restore reciprocal treatment of imports and exports that is inherent in trade.”

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg wrote the presidents and executives of a dozen major global shipping lines to relieve the supply chains and consider options of other ports beyond the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, California. The secretaries cited the “unprecedented disruption to the flow of goods worldwide” and the need for both government and industry “to pull every lever and maximize the use of our existing infrastructure to relieve congestion and shipping disruptions.”

For more than a year now, global carriers have been delivering cargo containers to U.S. ports, then returning with empty containers rather than shipping agricultural goods back to Asia – especially China. The shippers maintain they get more money to deliver containers to Asian shippers that can be quickly flipped for exports back to the U.S. rather than having to deal with handling U.S. agricultural commodities.

Dairy exporters thanked the secretaries for the letter to “call out profiteering by foreign-owned carriers” after stating that the supply chain problems have cost the dairy industry at least $1.3 billion over the first three quarters of 2021.

The secretaries stated in their letter that restoring reciprocal treatment of products is critical while shippers of U.S.-grown agricultural commodities and goods have seen reduced service, everchanging return dates, and unfair fees as containers have short-circuited the usual pathways and been rushed to be exported empty – an imbalance, according to the secretaries, that is not sustainable and contributes to the logjam of empty containers clogging ports.

The secretaries also highlighted that ocean carriers have suspended service to the Port of Oakland, which has caused agricultural exporters to truck their products to Los Angeles and Long Beach, which are already congested, adding that “the poor service and refusal to serve customers when the empty containers are clearly available is unacceptable and, if not resolved quickly, may require further examination and action by the Federal Maritime Commission.”

Yet, after a year of complaints to the Federal Maritime Commission, the commission hasn’t been aggressive in dealing with the issue of empty containers. The commission did create an advisory committee in October, and the House passed a bill last week, the Ocean Shipping Reform Act, that garnered wide bipartisan support, that would give the commission more ability to pressure shippers into filling containers rather than loading empty ones at port.


The North American Meat Institute (NAMI) said proposed rules to implement California’s Proposition 12 animal confinement law remain flawed and more time is needed for compliance despite modifications to the proposed rules.

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), the agency tasked with developing rules to implement the law, announced modifications to Prop 12 and NAMI said some of the changes do recognize the complexity of the pork supply chain but they do not go far enough and suggests “rather than apply ‘band aids’ to address challenges, that CDFA should go further and afford everyone in the supply chain – from hog producers all the way to foodservice and retail entities – the 28-month preparation time the law, and the voters, contemplated before enforcing any aspect of Prop 12 or its regulations.”

California voters approved Proposition 12 back in 2018. The law establishes specific minimum requirements for confinement of laying hens, breeding pigs and veal calves beginning in 2022, so the deadline for producers to comply with the law is fast approaching. Two food manufacturers have said they will comply with Prop. 12 when it goes into force January 2022.

David Eaheart, senior director of communications and brand marketing at Seaboard Foods said “Seaboard Foods will no longer sell certain whole pork products into California due to California’s Proposition 12.”

Hormel Foods Corp. has assessed Proposition 12 and, while it is still awaiting final clarity on specific details and rules, the company is preparing to fully comply when the law goes into effect on January 1. The company’s Applegate portfolio of products already complies with Proposition 12, but added that although they “…face no risk of material losses from compliance with Proposition 12” the law will add complexity to the company’s supply chain, including costs associated with compliance.


Tri-State Livestock News reported the House of Representatives passed a standalone cattle contract library bill introduced by South Dakota Congressman Dusty Johnson with a vote of 411-13.

The House also voted 418-9 to advance H.R. 5290, introduced by House Agriculture Committee Chairman David Scott (D-GA), extending authorization for livestock mandatory reporting (LMR) through September 30, 2022.

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association cheered the House passage of both pieces of legislation, saying they secured the introduction of the Johnson bill and that LMR is absolutely essential to fair, competitive, and transparent cattle markets.

Iowa cattle feeder, Eric Nelson calls the compromise bill a “feel good thing,” saying that a friend of his who worked as a hog marketing agent in 2009 told him recently that the hog contract library did not preserve the small hog producers, but rather, it hastened their decline.

The industry is in agreement that the cash market has gotten too thin to accurately determine the value of market-ready cattle in a timely manner.  The 50-14 regulation would have required the bigger packers to purchase 50 percent of their needs on the cash or “spot” market and to take delivery within 14 days. The compromise bill would require USDA to implement a cattle contract library, instate regional cash trade minimums and maximums, inhibit packer confidentiality claims which would increase reporting, and require more timely reporting of cattle carcass weights and require packer to report the next 14 days’ slaughter numbers.

R Calf Region III Director, Brett Kenzy said that with 10 sponsors on Grassley’s 50-14 bill, and 5 sponsors on Fischer’s original cattle contract library bill, it is curious why the industry dropped support for 50-14, and said this bill is not a true “compromise” with very little if any of the Grassley bill is included – although several groups have voiced support for Fischer and Grassley’s S.3229, known as the Cattle Market Compromise Bill.

James Halverson, whose South Dakota Stockgrowers Board of Directors voted 15-10 to support the bill, said his group wasn’t satisfied with the regional cash minimums offered in the bill and that they will continue to push for more – as well as more transparency according to his group’s policy.

The Independent Beef Association of North Dakota, chose not to support the bill, stating their “membership felt at this point that there are too many loopholes,” unanswered questions, that it will take too long to implement, and giving more authority to USDA doesn’t sound great.

R-CALF stated publicly they did not support the bill after submitting to the sponsors three different memos which included proposed amendments to the legislation.

Kenzy said the bill takes a snapshot of the last 18 months – the poorest in the history of the cattle business – and makes that the baseline, limiting the mandatory minimums of the best cash trade areas by tying them to the lowest cash trade areas, and that his greatest opposition lies not in the idea that it does not do enough, or does not do enough quickly enough, its greatest danger is the precedent that it sets – fearful that if Congress deems ‘regionalization’ to be legal, it will change the industry forever. The Packers and Stockyards Act of 1921 was enacted to “protect members of the livestock, meat and poultry industries from unfair, deceptive, unjustly discriminatory and monopolistic practices….”  Kenzy fears if regionalization is enshrined in law by this bill that we will have once again muddied the water – perhaps irreparably.

The U.S. Cattlemen’s Association voiced their immediate support for the bill, confident the Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act will deliver on its promise to restore robust price discovery and provide market participants with the information they need to make savvy marketing decisions, and commends Senators Fischer, Grassley, Tester, and Wyden for coming together on a bipartisan solution that has broad support from both lawmakers and producer groups.

The groups Vice President Justin Tupper said reforming the cattle marketplace to drive transparency and true price discovery is a core tenet of how we can strengthen the U.S. cattle producer’s bottom line, and that they look forward to working with members of the Senate and House Agriculture Committees to quickly advance this bill.

Tupper explained that it is crucial for the industry to gather round a bill that will pass, and to work with legislators who have proven themselves to back the cattle industry.

In response to those who might fear that if the compromise bill passes, the industry will not get support for additional issues, Tupper confirmed this is no concern, stating that “when this passes, the work begins. We have to get something done. We can’t shoot for the moon like we have for 25 years. We can’t have an end all be all bill. It won’t happen.”

Daily Headlines for December 2, 2021

FMSCA extends Hours of Service waiver for livestock haulers again

According to AgWeb, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has extended a 50-state emergency declaration offering regularity relief for drivers who are hauling certain supplies during the COVID-19 crisis through Feb. 28, 2022.

The Hours of Service (HOS) rule limits truckers to 11 hours of driving time and 14 consecutive hours of on-duty time in any 24-hour period, and requires prescribed rest periods.

Prompted to ensure producers could continue transporting live cattle and hogs at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, the FMCSA included livestock haulers in an initial emergency declaration that provided an exemption from the HOS regulation for commercial truckers hauling essential supplies – including livestock – and was subsequently expanded to cover the delivery of livestock feed.

The FMCSA extended the waiver in August to Nov. 30. In that extension, the agency also requested that livestock haulers who use the waiver report that within five days of the end of each month on their FMCSA portal.

A provision in the infrastructure bill recently signed into law expanded the miles agricultural truckers can drive without the HOS restrictions. Divers hauling livestock already were exempt from the HOS rule for the first 150 air miles of their runs. Now they also will be exempt from HOS rules for the final 150 air miles from their destination, providing additional flexibility to ensure drivers can safely complete their deliveries while protecting other drivers and ensuring the welfare of the animals in their care.”

The FMCSA also reiterated that the HOS waiver does not give motor carriers the right to compel fatigued drivers to operate, and any driver who informs a motor carrier that they need rest is to be given 10 hours before they are required to return to duty.


ESI Group partners with Cattlemen’s Heritage to design, build new beef processing facility

According to Beef Magazine, the ESI Group has been selected to design and construct a greenfield beef-processing facility in southwest Iowa.

The 500,000-sq. ft. Cattlemen’s Heritage Beef Co. harvesting plant, located in northern Mills County, will harvest 1,500 head per day and employ up to 750 people, with groundbreaking scheduled for spring 2022.

Chad Tentinger, lead developer for the newly found corporation headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa, said they were “drawn to the ESI Group because of its status as an industry leader with more than three decades of specialized experience in the design and construction of food distribution, processing, and automated facilities.”

Tentinger hopes to provide a market for cattle raised by smaller, independent cattle producers, and plans to open the plant in late 2023.


Packing plant plan advances to North Platte City Council

According to the North Platte Telegraph, with no debate and a unanimous Community Redevelopment Authority vote, Sustainable Beef LLC’s plan to build a meatpacking plant atop a retired city sewer lagoon has advanced to final City Council action next week.

The five-member CRA voted 5-0 Monday for a resolution calling on the city to sell the 80-acre site for $142,500 and grant $21.5 million in tax increment financing for site preparation and infrastructure costs.

City Council members, who granted $1 million in forgivable planning loans from city economic development funds in August, will hold a public hearing and final vote at the 5:30 p.m. council meeting Dec. 7.

A positive council vote would set up a final CRA meeting in early January to finalize a development contract with Sustainable Beef, but the deal’s terms, stipulate that lagoon wouldn’t change hands before project organizers complete their $325 million financing package.

CRA Chairman Mike Jacobson confirmed that if that’s done by the January CRA meeting and Sustainable Beef presents a signed construction contract, “they’d be in a position to have a land transfer and could begin work at that time.”

Sustainable Beef CEO David Briggs said organizers, including several western Nebraska cattle growers, now have 23 signed contracts from a 200-mile radius to meet the plant’s 1,500-head-per-day capacity.


Daily Headlines for November 30, 2021

Russia resumes beef, pork imports from 12 units of Brazilian producers

Reuters reported that Russia will be resuming beef and pork imports from 12 subsidiaries of Brazilian producers, lifting restrictions that have been in place since 2017 after alleged use of the feed additive ractopamine.

Moscow allowed beef imports from another three units of major Brazilian beef exporters last week as it moved to boost domestic supply, and further supplies will resume from nine units producing pork and three units producing beef.

Brazil’s biggest beef processors – JBS SA (JBSS3.SA), Minerva SA (BEEF3.SA) and Marfrig Global Foods SA (MRFG3.SA) – did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Russia plans to set a duty-free import quota for up to 200,000 tons of beef in 2022 in order to boost domestic supply as part of measures the government hopes will help stabilize domestic inflation, which is at a five-year high.

For Brazil – the world’s largest beef exporter – Russia is a promising market as its exports to China were temporarily suspended in September after two atypical cases of mad cow disease were reported in the South American nation.

Since the cases in cattle were announced, Brazil has also reported two cases of the neurodegenerative disorder in people, though agriculture officials said they were not related to beef consumption.

Cargill issues lockout notice after 98% of High River workers reject contract offer

The Calgary Herald reported that Cargill issued a lockout notice to workers at one of Canada’s largest meat-packing plants on Thursday, a day after 98% of unionized workers at the High River facility voted against the company’s latest contract offer, putting them in a position to strike as early as Dec. 6.

In a response posted online, UFCW Local 401 president Thomas Hesse said employees are not deterred by Cargill’s lockout notice, and that the near-unanimous rejection of the contract offer shows the need for the employer to rebuild trust in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The labor dispute heated up two weeks ago, when union leaders issued Cargill a notice that workers would hit the picket line if a new collective agreement cannot be reached.

The strike would come as prices of red meat approach record highs in North America amid global supply chain struggles, and a shutdown at the High River facility – a plant that accounts for roughly 40% of Canada’s beef processing capacity – would inject even more uncertainty into that market.

In an emailed statement, Cargill spokesman Daniel Sullivan said the company is willing to keep meeting to avoid any labor disruptions, which are in no one’s best interest during an already challenging time.

NFU highlights farmer’s share of Thanksgiving dollar

According to the Hagstrom Report, despite the higher cost at the grocery store, the National Farmers Union confirmed that farmers will receive only 14.3 cents of every dollar that was spent on this year’s Thanksgiving meal.

NFU President Rob Larew said “Even though consumers are paying more for food this year, almost none of that is being passed on to America’s family farmers and ranchers. Multiple waves of mergers and acquisitions during the last several decades have resulted in agriculture and food supply chains that are uncompetitive, fragile, and underpay farmers as the farmer’s share of every dollar consumers spend on food has fallen from 50% in 1952 to less than 15% today.”

Daily headlines for November 24, 2021

Cattle groups disagree on new legislation that would reshape U.S. cattle markets

According to Brownfield Ag News legislation is expected to be introduced in Congress next week that would significantly reform the structure of U.S. cattle markets

RCalf CEO Bill Bullard told Brownfield the legislation introduced Monday by Senator Cory Booker and Representative Ro Khanna would make comprehensive changes to all aspects of the market, starting with prohibiting packers from entering into formula contracts.

The Act accomplishes this by requiring any contract that requires delivery of cattle more than 7 days before slaughter to contain a base price that can be equated to a fixed dollar amount.

The new Act also:
• Bans the nation’s largest packers from owning and feeding cattle more than 7 days before slaughter.
• Requires each plant owned by the largest packers to purchase at least 50% of their cattle needs from the competitive cash market each day and to slaughter those cattle within 7 days.
• Prohibits any conduct by the packers that adversely affects competition regardless of any business justification claimed by the packers.
• Clarifies that a showing of harm to competition is not necessary for producers to protect themselves from anticompetitive conduct by the packers.
• Restores mandatory country of origin labeling (MCOOL) for beef and pork and adds dairy products.
• Empowers producers to defend the competitiveness of their industry by authorizing the recovery of attorney fees in successful cases filed under the Packers and Stockyards Act.

The comprehensive new Act contains three titles: the first addresses reforms to protect meat and poultry processing workers; the second addresses the above stated cattle market reforms; and the third addresses reports required by the Government Accountability Office, including a report on the fragility of and national security concerns in meat and poultry food systems.

While R-CALF announced their endorsement of the reforms, Ethan Lane with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association told Brownfield “To craft something like this with vegan members of Congress that don’t even agree that cattle production should exist and slap it together and put it out the door as some kind of silver bullet solution is not something we can take seriously at this point as an industry.”


USDA invests $32 million to strengthen U.S. food supply chain; solidifies commitment to helping the meat and poultry sector recover from the pandemic

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported Monday that Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the investment of $32 million in grants awarded to 167 meat and poultry slaughter and processing facilities to support expanded capacity and efficiency through the Meat and Poultry Inspection Readiness Grant (MPIRG) program.

With this grant funding, meat and poultry processing businesses can cover the costs for improvements such as expanding existing facilities, modernizing processing equipment, and meeting packaging, labeling, and food safety requirements needed to achieve a Federal Grant of Inspection, or to operate under a state’s Cooperative Interstate Shipment program. These changes will allow these facilities to serve more customers in more markets.

The Meat and Poultry Inspection Readiness Grant, a new program authorized by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, is jointly administered by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) and Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). The program was part of USDA’s comprehensive funding package to help small and very small processing facilities weather the pandemic, compete in the marketplace, and get the support they need to reach more customers.

In June 2021, USDA announced the availability of $55.2 million in program funding, accepting applications for a competitive grant award process which resulted in this week’s awards. Remaining funds will be made available through a forthcoming Request for Applications.


Prairie ranchers brace for potential strike at Cargill plant in Alberta as deadline looms

According to CBC News, in the last two years Prairie ranchers have been dealing with drought, soaring feed costs and pandemic disruptions that led to massive cattle backlogs. Now they are watching — and hoping — for progress on labor negotiations at the Cargill meat-packing plant in High River, Alberta after the union representing workers at the plant issued a strike notice to the company earlier this month.

While the facility is one of the largest in Canada, and has been estimated to processes about one third of Canada’s beef, Cargill spokesperson Daniel Sullivan said Thursday that an agreement has yet to be reached.

A spokesperson for UFCW Local 401 could not be reached for comment, but a strike notice issued on behalf of workers said employees at the plant have raised health and safety concerns related to COVID-19 after a 2020 outbreak saw at least 950 staff at the facility — nearly half its workforce — test positive, with two worker deaths linked to the outbreak.

The union has said workers also want improved benefits, for the company to move workers who are awarded new jobs to those jobs quickly, and reasonable wage increases.

Alberta ranchers hope the two sides can find common ground soon, concerned that a strike at the Cargill plant will lead to another backlog of cattle as they continue trying to manage the fallout of this summer’s drought that hit pasture land and helped drive up feed costs.

As experts have suggested up to 20% of the Canadian cattle herd could be sold off this fall and winter as producers are forced to decrease the size of their herds or go out of business, President of the Manitoba Beef Producers, Tyler Fulton, said he has no doubt that if there’s a long-term stoppage at Cargill that ranchers in his province would see declines of 10-20% in the prices paid for their calves.

Cargill said while they are optimistic an agreement will be reached before there is any impact to producers, they “are in communication with cattle suppliers about contingency plans should they be necessary.”

Professor and food economist, Mike Von Massow said if a strike closed the Cargill plant it would put more upward pressure on retail beef prices, that the stakeholder most significantly hurt by a long-term closure would be the producers and feedlot operators that lead up to the processor, and that if a dispute were to close the plant for a long period of time there would be the potential for significant farm failures in the beef industry.


U.S. senator introduces bill to block Brazilian beef imports after ‘mad cow’ reports

According to Reuters, U.S. Senator Jon Tester introduced legislation last Thursday to halt the import of Brazilian beef into the United States and called for experts to review “the commodity’s safety” after Brazil delayed reporting two cases of mad cow disease.

The bill follows political pressure from U.S. cattle producers who have been calling for a halt to imports of Brazilian fresh beef due to questions about what processes Brazil uses to detect animal disease and other potential foodborne threats to consumers.

Brazil, the world’s largest beef exporter, suspended beef exports to top customer China after the South American country confirmed two cases of “atypical” mad cow disease in two separate domestic meat plants in early September – 3 months after the cases were originally detected in June.

Political pressure on USDA has mounted in recent days, after two cases of a neurodegenerative disorder in patients in Rio de Janeiro were reported earlier this month, despite Brazil’s Agriculture Ministry claiming the cases were not related to beef consumption.


JBS enters cultivated protein market with BioTech Foods takeover

New Food Magazine reported food manufacturing giant, JBS Foods, has entered into an agreement to acquire control of the Spanish company BioTech Foods as it looks to enter the cultivated protein market.

The deal signals the company’s entry into the cultivated protein market, and includes investment in building a new plant in Spain to scale up production. Along with the acquisition, JBS is also announcing the setting up of Brazil’s first cultivated protein research & development center, channeling $100 million (US) into the two projects.

Founded in 2017 and supported by the Spanish Government and European Union, BioTech Foods operates a pilot plant in the city of San Sebastián and expects to reach commercial production in mid-2024 with the building of this new production facility.

JBS will become the majority shareholder, and have access to BioTech Foods technology and protein production capability while providing the industrial processing capacity, marketing structure, and sales channels to bring the new product to market.

When commercial operations begin, the cultivated protein will reach consumers in the form of prepared foods, such as hamburgers, steaks, sausage meats, and meatballs. The technology has the potential not only for the production of beef protein, but also chicken, pork and fish.

Through their investment in the R&D center, JBS says it intends to develop new techniques that accelerate the economies of scale and reduce the costs of producing cultivated protein, bringing forward its commercialization on the market.

Daily Headlines for November 12, 2021

Beef Magazine reported that four US Senators have reached a compromise on measures they see as improving the cattle market, combining components of previously introduced bills in their new Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act as Congress works towards reauthorization of the Livestock Mandatory Reporting set to expire Dec. 3, 2021.

The four main sponsors include Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa; Deb Fischer, R-Neb.; Jon Tester, D-Mont. and Ron Wyden, D-Ore after Grassley and Tester had previously introduced a bill that competed with one led by Fischer.

In brief, this legislation would enhance price discovery and transparency by requiring packers to participate in the cash market on a plant-by-plant basis within each major cattle feeding region; creating a library of formula contracts; and expediting the report of average carcass weights to the public. It also requires a cost benefit analysis after two years to ensure the program is working as intended.

The creation of a cattle contract library is the most widely supported component of the bill. As the U.S. House Agriculture Committee unanimously passed the bipartisan Cattle Contract Library Act of 2021 (H.R. 5609) in action by the committee Oct. 21, the Senate proposal also requires the USDA to create and maintain a publicly available library of marketing contracts between packers and producers in a manner that ensures confidentiality.

The bill also requires USDA to release more timely information on carcass weights, and 14-day slaughter reporting – similar to what Grassley first introduced in his 50-14 plan. Specifically, it requires that a packer report the number of cattle scheduled to be delivered for slaughter each day for the next 14-day period. This tool can be used by producers to project estimated slaughter numbers and packers’ needs for cattle.

The bill also updates Livestock Mandatory Reporting definitions for “Fed Cattle,” “Heifer,” “negotiated grid purchase,” “regional mandatory minimums” and “steer,” and redesignates paragraphs of existing definitions as appropriate. Cattle Reporting Definitions are amended by revising the definition for “formula marketing arrangement,” and by adding “contract,” “type of contract” and redesignating paragraphs of existing definitions where appropriate.

A significant challenge facing the cattle industry is the declining number of participants in the negotiated cash market. In order to have robust price discovery that provides accurate information about market dynamics along the supply chain, the senators claim the market needs a competitive cash market with multiple price discovery points. Negotiated trade, also called the “cash” or “spot” market, increasingly has been replaced by formula pricing, forward markets and longer-term marketing agreements — collectively referred to as alternative marketing arrangements or AMAs.

In a summary of the bill, it explains today the bulk of formula pricing uses negotiated cash prices as the base in the formula — meaning information from the negotiated cash market is being heavily leveraged by nonparticipants, even as it declines in volume.

The shift from cash sales to AMAs has been more dramatic in certain regions. For example, from 2005 to 2018, there has been a 40% decrease in cash sales in the Texas/Oklahoma/New Mexico cattle region. Meanwhile, in the Iowa/Minnesota region, transactions in the cash market have dropped only 16% during the same time period.

The legislation will establish regional mandatory minimum thresholds of negotiated cash and negotiated grid trades based on each region’s 18-month average trade to enable price discovery in cattle marketing regions. In order to establish regionally sufficient levels of negotiated cash and negotiated grid trade, the secretary of agriculture, in consultation with the chief economist, would seek public comment on those levels, set the minimums and then implement them.

According to DTN, Senators also would increase penalties packers face in the beef and swine industries for violations under the Packers and Stockyards Act to the same level that a poultry dealer faces when USDA finds a violation.

Grassley had been pushing for each state to achieve 50% negotiated cash trade, while Fischer has pushed for a more regional approach that was struck in the deal. Still, Grassley told reporters that negotiated cash trade in a state such as Texas is down to just about 6% of the state’s fed cattle sales, and the bill would increase that level significantly.

Fischer, in a statement, said robust price discovery can help everyone in the supply chain, and the foundation of that comes down to negotiated cash sales. While cash sales are getting thinner in parts of the country, they are still the basis for marketing agreements between packers and feeders as well.

“One or two regions of the country should not have to shoulder the burden of price discovery, and that’s exactly what has been happening,” Fischer said. “Furthermore, even regions that primarily use alternative marketing arrangements (AMAs) such as formula contracts predominantly rely on negotiated cash sales to set their base prices. Our compromise proposal takes regional differences into account and ensures fairness for every segment of the supply chain.”

Grassley said the four sponsoring senators “have had very promising discussions” with Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, but that it remains to be seen how she and ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee will treat the legislation considering Congress has been unable to strike an agreement for a five-year reauthorization of the Livestock Mandatory Price Reporting Act (LMR).

The North American Meat Institute, which lobbies for meatpackers, stated that the bill ignores recent analysis of the beef and cattle markets and “the bill’s mandated government intervention will have unintended consequences that will hurt livestock producers and consumers.” NAMI has consistently maintained there is no need for new legislation to address the balance between packers and producers in the market, stating that “beef and cattle markets are dynamic,” and that “in a rush to do ‘something,’ this bill would replace the free market with government mandates, harm the livestock producers it is intended to protect, and essentially turn back time to the days of commodity cattle.

Groups representing cattle producers and members of Congress have been trying to strike a balance to stimulate more negotiated cash cattle trade, especially over the past two years, as the spread between live cattle prices and boxed beef prices reached record levels following multiple market disruptions such as the Tyson packing-plant fire in Kansas in 2019 and COVID-19 last year.

Ethan Lane, vice president of government affairs for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, stated that the group is still reviewing the language of the bill and comparing it to NCBA’s policy, though “It would appear that — as in previous versions — they can support much of this bill.

Lane added, though, that NCBA’s policy book also directs the group to oppose government mandates on cattle marketing methods and that they would be holding this bill up against the policy of the association.

Other national groups that have already announced their support of the senators’ bill include the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Farmers Union and the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association.

County 10 Media reported that Fremont County, Wyoming’s newest USDA livestock processing plant, opened its doors on October 4th and they are ready to process cattle, bison, hogs, and lambs.

After around 7 years of planning and building, Genuine Meats will be Wyoming’s largest USDA facility once at full capacity, according to managing partner Beau Sheets.

They are also the only known local processor to have a custom harvest floor which was designed by a person who works closely with scientist Temple Grandin.

Their opening was a bit delayed due to supply chain issues, however, they are now up and running with plans to have the Genuine Meats label of items like snack sticks and summer sausage for sale around the first of the year.

Nebraska Cattlemen reported their appreciation for the support of Senator Fischer and Representative Bacon for advancing the much-needed Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act – a bill providing investments into roads, bridges, and broadband infrastructure, in addition to securing much-needed regulatory certainty and relief for farmers, ranchers, and cattle transporters.

“Nebraska Cattlemen have worked closely with Senator Fischer and others to ensure the inclusion of the critical backend 150 air-mile exemption for livestock haulers under hours-of-service rules,” stressing the connection between the ability for cattle producers to efficiently raise cattle and haul them safely and to compete in a fast-paced global marketplace with the economic stability of rural communities and a resilient food supply chain.

Other key provisions of importance include funding for roads, bridges, ports, and waterways that are crucial to Nebraska farmers, ranchers, and ag exporters, additional funding for broadband internet infrastructure, and needed reforms to the federal permitting process for critical water-related investments.

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is not the same package as the multi-trillion-dollar budget reconciliation bill, rather a bi-partisan, hard infrastructure bill containing important provisions that support the beef cattle industry.

Daily Headlines for November 9, 2021

The Western Producer reported Canadian imports of live cattle are 277,290 head so far this year, 1.9 percent higher than last year’s total as American cattle continue to fill western Canadian feedlots and support processors at record pace.

Jason Wood, Alberta’s livestock market analyst, said there has been no growth in the Canadian beef cow herd in the past several years and American cattle naturally fill the void.

Wood said typically Alberta receives about 54 percent of the total imports but this year that is up to 62 percent having already imported 9.9 percent over last year thanks to 41,200 new and additional spaces, and the feeding advantage that Canada had for a large part of the year when corn was more expensive than barley.

However, that has reversed and corn now has the advantage as processing plants are operating near capacity to meet strong demand, which in turn drives demand for fed cattle.

Wood said the utilization rate this year at western Canadian federally inspected plants is 97.7 percent, which is much higher than the five-year average of 86 percent.

For the week ending Oct. 9 alone, western Canadian slaughter was two million head, up 11.7 percent over last year, nearly five percent above 2019, and 14 percent higher than the five-year average.

Year-to-date and total Canadian production are also up 12 percent and 10.8 percent from 2020 respectively, both more than 14 percent higher than their five-year averages.

In a published report, Wood said increased production has pushed Alberta beef exports to just over 250,000 tons worth nearly $2.2 billion – up 38.4 percent by value and 25.5 percent by volume compared to the January to August period last year, and compared to 2019, the numbers are 37.6 percent and 15.8 percent higher.

That said, beef imports are down nationally to 123,787 tons – a drop of 19.2 percent from 2020 and 13.2 percent lower than the five-year average, but Wood expressed that increased beef exports and lower imports are a good sign of strong demand for beef and overall support for the sector, and that continued strong demand supports further imports of live cattle.


According to DTN, the last time the cash cattle market traded at or above $130 was back in June 2017. So, for the last four years, feedlots have slowly grown accustomed to believing that $130 was unattainable. Unattainable because the market’s fundamentals didn’t support that price threshold… because packers didn’t need cattle… because there was a backlog of cattle… and eventually, because who believes that fat cattle will trade above $130? Over time, it’s not a matter of what’s factual or true, what an asset is truly worth or what’s it’s perceived to be worth, but it’s what we feed ourselves mentally that eventually becomes true.

And that’s why last week’s victory of successfully trading cash cattle for $130 is such a milestone. There were analysts who didn’t believe the market would trade at number simply because of the psychological barriers that the market had built.

Last week’s cash cattle trade saw a few pens of cattle move on Tuesday, but it wasn’t until Friday that the standoff between packers and feedlots shook out. Last week, Southern live cattle traded for $126 to $130, mostly at $128 to $130, which is $2 to $5 higher than the previous week. Northern dressed cattle traded from $200 to $206, mostly at $202 to $204, which is $2 to $4 higher than the week before.

Last week’s negotiated cash cattle trade totaled 96,867 head – 90% (87,369 head) of which were scheduled for the nearby delivery, while the remaining 10% (9,498 head) were scheduled for deferred delivery in the following 15 to 30 days.

Heading into this week’s trade, it’s fair to believe that the cash cattle market stands a strong chance at demanding higher prices once again. How packers committed the cattle they bought last week is extremely telling, and so long as boxed beef prices stay rewarding, then packers should want to keep processing speeds elevated, which means that feedlots stand a chance to gain more leverage this week. Because the mental obstacle of $130 has been overcome, and because the market’s technical and fundamental windshield supports this rally — cattlemen are finding themselves taking over the driver’s seat of the market.


Drovers reported that a South Dakota feedlot operator who pleaded guilty to operating a Ponzi cattle scheme was sentenced to nearly eight years in federal prison on Thursday.

Robert Blom of Corsica entered a guilty plea in August to what prosecutors said was a scheme to resell the same cattle to multiple investors, making a profit of about $24 million from 2014 to 2019.

After a federal indictment in March 2020 detailed about $10 million in funds related to his feedlot business, prosecutors said he altered purchasing documents leading investors to believe his feedlot was more successful than it actually was. He also sold the same groups of cattle to multiple buyers and used the money to pay back previous investors.

A civil foreclosure case against Blom remains ongoing, with more than 70 parties claiming they are owed money.

Blom was sentenced to 91 months in prison Thursday on charges of wire fraud and money laundering, while 30 other counts were dropped as part of a plea bargain.

Judge Karen Schreier said that Blom should have known what he was doing was wrong, after facing charges in 1997 for getting a bank loan after lying about cattle that he didn’t own.

Blom received probation at the time but asked the judge last week for mercy as his defense attorney painted a picture of a stressed-out farmer who was only trying to save his family farm.


According to the Western Ag Reporter an agreement was recently made to end a Section 232 tariff dispute between the United States and the European Union, which American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall calls “welcome news for America’s farmers.”

While the dispute centered around steel and aluminum, farmers were swept up in the turmoil as the EU clamped down on U.S. agricultural exports.

Duvall commented on the need for stable and predictable trade agreements to grow exports, particularly as America’s farmers recover from the impacts of the pandemic.

Daily Headlines for November 4, 2021

Beef Read reported that the surge in negotiated cash cattle prices to $128 Tuesday – the highest since April 2019 — has catapulted December live cattle futures. December reached $132.40 today, a new spot live cattle high and the highest since June 2017.

As of this morning, packers had bought only 17k head, so they will have to work harder to accumulate inventory which has not be true for a very, very long time.

Negotiated cash cattle prices have stalled out in the $130 area since 2017 too, when cash reached $144 on a spring rally. So finally, the fed cattle market is showing true improvement for the first time since numbers cyclically peaked in 2019, only to be waylaid by a plant fire and a global pandemic.

Supplies of market-ready fed cattle are tightening and front-end supplies are finally getting cleaned up. Fundamentally it’s not a stretch to expect fed cattle prices to surpass $130 and trade above that level until the 2022 spring high.

Wholesale values are advancing seasonally, up $8 or so off the lows and will continue strong until early December typically. Packer margins will probably stay very profitable as cattle prices increase, but not continue at the extreme levels that have been seen for months in 2021.


According to the Oklahoma Farm Report, while the cattle industry looks to increase robust price discovery through cash trade, many producers and industry experts warn of the dangers of mandating cash trade as many agree that mandated cash trade directly threatens alternative marketing agreements and grid-pricing of cattle.

Don Close, a senior animal protein analyst at Rabo AgriFinance told Radio Oklahoma Ag Network that there is no doubt that the cattle industry could use more cash trade, but needs to be careful to not disincentivize the producers working within AMAs as when cattle started selling on individual carcass merit, that is where the incentive came to make those cattle better.

Going back to any kind of mandated percentage would shift the industry back into selling cattle on the average which, according to Close, would “absolutely disincentivizes that quality improvement and be a horrible mistake for the industry.”

Right now, the federal government is working on solutions for the beef cattle industry, one of which would be to mandate a certain percentage of cash trade.

At the same time, Close does support increased cash cattle trade as he believes an increased volume of cattle will provide a greater level of confidence throughout the market and that there is valuable opportunity to advance the market in pricing cattle off of cutout.

According to Close this could resolve a lot of the friction between producers of transaction types, but also knows it’s a big reach to make that leap, and believes that as leverage neutralizes and the industry continues to push the envelope in how it markets cattle, that is when the issue will rectify itself over time.

While he sees producers fed up with the norm not working and understands why they are looking for change, he warns that shooting from the hip to make changes just for changes sake, is dangerous.


According to the Portland Press Herald, Maine voters passed the nation’s first “right to food” constitutional amendment on Tuesday.

A statewide referendum asked voters if they favored an amendment to the Maine Constitution “to declare that all individuals have a natural, inherent and unalienable right to grow, raise, harvest, produce and consume the food of their own choosing for their own nourishment, sustenance, bodily health and well-being.” It was an experiment not tried before by any state.

Supporters used the campaign to make the case the amendment would ensure the right to grow vegetables and raise livestock in an era when corporatization threatens local ownership of the food supply, positioning the amendment as a chance for Mainers to take control of the food supply back from large landowners and giant retailers with little connection to the community.

Opponents cast the drive as deceptively vague. They also said it represented a threat to food safety and animal welfare, and could encourage residents to try to raise cows in their backyard.

The proposed amendment was the result of effort by members of the state’s food sovereignty movement. The movement includes small farmers, raw milk fans, libertarians, liberals and anti-corporate activists who all feel local communities should have more of a say in the future of the food supply.

The Maine Farm Bureau, the largest farming advocacy group in the state, opposed the new constitutional amendment, but said Tuesday the bureau respected the will of the state’s voters.


According to the Hagstrom Report, the House Agriculture Committee held a hearing Wednesday at which various sectors within agriculture discussed their immediate supply chain problems while House Agriculture Committee Chairman David Scott, D-Ga., and House Agriculture ranking member Glenn “GT” Thompson, R-Pa., disagreed about whether the Biden administration is to blame for the problems.

After the hearing, Scott said that it was abundantly clear that the key piece as we address supply chain issues facing our food supply is recruiting and retaining more commercial truck drivers to transport food and agriculture commodities across the country. Scott confirmed that while our food supply is abundant and there is no cause for panic, more than 15,000 vacancies for truck drivers and 17,500 warehouse vacancies is a serious problem.

Although Scott confirmed that these challenges are largely driven by the pandemic, Thompson said he was disappointed that the administration was not represented at the hearing as he considers them “one of the main culprits” in the supply chain problems.

Thompson said, “In too many instances, the White House uses industry as a scapegoat rather than partnering with them to solve problems. While we can mull other factors like natural disasters, much of what we are hearing today is how…the policies under consideration by this administration are compounding — instead of mitigating — this crisis.”

Daily Headlines for November 2, 2021

The US Cattlemen Association reported that the White House and Congressional negotiators released the long-awaited Build Back Better Act last week, after the cost of the package had been whittled down from its original $3.5 trillion price tag to $1.75 trillion over a decade.

What’s in it for U.S. cattle producers you ask? The bill allocates $900 million to the Department of Justice Antitrust Division for carrying out work related to competition or enforcement of the antitrust laws and $100 million to the Federal Trade Commission for work related to unfair methods of competition or enforcement of the antitrust laws.

The bill also provides assistance for outstanding indebtedness on direct farm loans to economically distressed direct farm loan borrowers, and outstanding indebtedness up to $150,000 for other direct farm loan borrowers who did not receive significant amounts of payments under the Market Facilitation Program in 2018 and 2019 or the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program in 2020.

There is also an incredible amount of funding entirely dedicated to preventing and fighting wildfire, and the promotion of fuels reductions projects.

According to The Hagstom Report, President Biden said at a news conference in Italy on Sunday that he hopes Congress will pass the Build Back Better Act (BBB) and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, known as the bipartisan infrastructure framework or BIF this week.


According to Reuters, U.S. food safety officials have blocked a rising number of meat shipments from Australia due to fecal contamination, straining trade relations between the two countries.

Labor and food safety groups attribute the problem to an Australian system that increasingly allows companies to inspect their own meat, replacing government inspectors.

Because U.S. food safety inspectors only physically examine or test a subset of imported meat, according to food industry experts, the rejections suggest that other contaminated shipments may have made it through the United States border.

The US Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) downplayed the rejections data in a statement to Reuters, saying its import inspection process “provides confidence in the safety of product from Australia that enters into U.S. commerce,” while Australia’s Department of Agriculture, Water, and the Environment (DAWE) emphasized that “Australian non-compliances remain very low – both relative to Australia’s total volume of meat and meat products exported, and when compared to competitor trading partners.”

While Australian imports accounted for 18% of the U.S.’s total meat imports in 2019, Australia’s Department of Agriculture, Water, and the Environment (DAWE) is concerned that a continued trend of rejections “could result in the US imposing sanctions, losses in confidence in Australia’s export system, and/or potential losses in market access for the US.”

The uptick in rejected meat shipments highlights potential problems in Australia’s domestic inspection regime, which has been transitioning from a government-run to a company-run system where regulators allow meat companies to substitute their own workers for government employees to inspect carcasses as they moved down the processing line. The change intends to speed up operations and save companies and the government money without undermining quality.

Zach Corrigan, an attorney at Food & Water Watch, a U.S. consumer and environmental advocacy group, called the rejections “further evidence that these semi-privatized inspection systems that allow the companies to inspect their own meat product are ineffective.”


According to the Oklahoma Farm Report, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President, Jerry Bohn said he is pleased with the direction things are going under the 75% Plan – particularly in the Texas Panhandle where the volume of negotiated trade had almost reached zero.

Bohn commended producers for stepping up in the last several months to increase the amount of negotiated trade which he credits to their recognition of the need for a certain level of negotiated trade, and desire to avoid some kind of government mandate

Anticipating packer participation to remain a challenge in the quarter, Bohn said that it took a while to get coordinated with the big four, and that some have participated better than others.

NCBA has endorsed Congress’ Cattle Contract Library Act of 2021, but Bohn said while he doesn’t believe mandates are the way to equalize industry leverage between producers and packers, he believes the new bill is a way to make the business more transparent for producers.


National Beef Wire reported that the American Farm Bureau Federation and National Pork Producers Council have petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to take their case against California’s Proposition 12, which would ban the sale of pork from hogs that don’t meet the state’s arbitrary production standards.

“We’re asking the Supreme Court to consider the constitutionality of one state imposing regulations that reach far outside its borders and stifle interstate and international commerce,” said NPPC President Jen Sorenson. “In this case, arbitrary animal housing standards that lack any scientific, technical or agricultural basis and that will only inflict harm on U.S. hog farmers.”

With nearly all pork currently produced in the United States failing to meet California’s arbitrary standards, to continue selling pork to the 40 million consumers who live in California, which represents about 15 percent of the U.S. pork market, pork producers would need to switch to alternative sow housing systems.

Industry estimates for converting sow barns or building new ones to meet the Prop 12 standards are in the billions of dollars, with consumers bearing the ultimate cost through higher pork prices.

AFBF President Zippy Duvall said, “Supporters of Proposition 12 claimed it would improve animal welfare and food safety. The law fails to address either of those issues. Farmers know the best way to care for their animals. This law takes away the flexibility to ensure hogs are raised in a safe environment while driving up the cost of providing food for America’s families. Small family farms well beyond California’s borders will be hit hardest as they are forced to make expensive and unnecessary changes to their operations. This will lead to more consolidation in the pork industry and higher prices at the grocery store, meaning every family in America will ultimately pay the price for Prop 12.”

Current cattle market daily headlines for October 26, 2021

Cattle contract library legislation advances

According to AgWeb, by unanimous vote, the U.S. House Agriculture Committee passed the bipartisan Cattle Contract Library Act of 2021 (H.R. 5609) on Thursday.

Introduced last week by Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-SD) and Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX), the Cattle Contract Library Act would establish a library of contracts for the Agricultural Marketing Service to report terms of alternative marketing agreements between packers and producers. Supporters of the bill say it would greatly increase transparency in cattle markets as cattlemen are currently unaware of contract terms being offered by packers – which Johnson credits for the decline in leverage for smaller producers during price negotiations.

The legislation would require the agriculture secretary to establish and maintain a library or catalog of each type of contract offered by meat packers to producers for the purchase of fed cattle, including any schedules of premiums or discounts associated with the contract. The measure would require that all collected information, from type of contract to base price and transportation arraignments, be made publicly available. The bill also requires the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to publicly report the total number of cattle that beef packers have committed to them six months and 12 months into the future.

Rep. Johnson said the bill is the result of nearly a year of work with producers and industry leaders following the July 2020 Boxed Beef & Fed Cattle Price Spread Investigation Report which recommended the creation of a cattle contract library.

During an interview with Chip Flory on AgriTalk Thursday, NCBA Director of Government Affairs and Government Regulatory Policy, Tanner Beymer, said the cattle contract library has “broad support from all sectors” and has been a longstanding priority for NCBA.

While the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association came out in support of the bill, other industry groups were less enthusiastic.

According to Farm Progress, R-CALF USA is the only cattle industry group to not support the bill as approved by the committee.

R-CALF USA’s board of directors reviewed the bill and determined it does not address the competition-disrupting leverage that the highly concentrated beef packers now hold over the cattle market and that modern methods of cattle procurement being used by the largest beef packers may fall outside the scope of the bill.

“The problem with our broken market is not that we don’t know the details of the contracts that confer market leverage to the packers, the problem is there are too many contracts and because of that, our price discovery market is being destroyed,” says Iowa cattle feeder and R-CALF USA Director Eric Nelson.

Nelson says S.949, also known as the 50/14 bill, addresses this serious problem by increasing the volume in the price discovery market and decreasing the volume of contracted cattle which forces the meatpackers to compete in the price discovery market by purchasing, at least, half of their cattle from that market and then slaughtering them within 14 days so they’re not able to also use those for captive supply cattle.

He said the mandatory Country of Origin legislation is also needed, and that a contract library could be helpful, but only after a competitive market is established. Farm Progress reported Nelson reiterating that putting a contract library ahead of taking action to preserve the price discovery market sends a signal that more contracts are good and more producers should try to access them – which is not what the organizations believes is needed.

Likewise, the North American Meat Institute withheld support for the bill entirely until further understanding the implications of its requirements.

President and CEO of the Meat Institute, Julie Anna Potts, said “More time is needed to consider how the bill will affect livestock producers, feedlot operators and packers and processors.” Due to the limited time allowed to consider the legislation, on behalf of the North America Meat Institute, Potts asked the House to pause and include packers in the conversation, stating that “the packers would bear the burden of complying with this new government mandate.”

The bill comes as Congress begins to lay out what it hopes to include in the Livestock Mandatory Reporting bill set to expire Dec. 3, but must be approved by the full House and would also need Senate consideration before it could be signed into law.


United States cattle on feed down 1 percent

National Beef Wire reported cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in the United States for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 11.6 million head on October 1, 2021 – 1% below October 1, 2020’s inventory, but the second highest October 1 inventory since the series began in 1996.

The inventory included 7.07 million steers and steer calves, down 3 percent from the previous year. This group accounted for 61 percent of the total inventory. Heifers and heifer calves accounted for 4.49 million head, up 2 percent from 2020.

Placements in feedlots during September totaled 2.16 million head, 3 percent below 2020, while marketings of fed cattle during September totaled 1.79 million head, 3 percent below last year’s numbers.


Is there a constitutional right to food? Mainers to decide

AP News reports that in the Nov. 2 election, voters will be asked if they favor an amendment to the Maine Constitution “to declare that all individuals have a natural, inherent and unalienable right to grow, raise, harvest, produce and consume the food of their own choosing for their own nourishment, sustenance, bodily health and well-being.”

The proposal is essentially “the 2nd Amendment of food,” said Republican Rep. Billy Bob Faulkingham, who proposed the amendment, likening it to the U.S. constitutional amendment that assures the right to bear arms. He says it’s a common-sense amendment that would make sure the government can’t stop people from doing things like saving and exchanging seeds, as long as they don’t violate public or property rights.

Faulkingham and others said the amendment is a response to growing corporate ownership of the food supply, and a way to wrestle control from big landowners and giant retailers.

Depending on whom you ask, Maine’s proposed “right to food” amendment would simply put people in charge of how and what they eat — or would endanger animals and food supplies, and turn urban neighborhoods into cattle pastures.

For supporters, the language is short and to the point, ensuring the right to grow vegetables and raise livestock in an era when corporatization threatens local ownership of the food supply, a constitutional experiment that has never been tried in any state.

For opponents and skeptics, it’s deceptively vague, representing a threat to food safety and animal welfare, and could embolden residents to raise cows in their backyards in cities like Portland and Bangor.

Julie Ann Smith, executive director of the Maine Farm Bureau, the largest farmers advocacy organization in the state, argued the language of the amendment is so broad that it could make the food supply less safe.

That’s a problem in a state where potatoes, blueberries, maple syrup and dairy products are all key pieces of the economy, she said. The amendment could empower residents to buy and consume food that isn’t subject to inspections, proper refrigeration and other safety checks, Smith worried.

Smith emphasized the organizations unrest over the language ‘to consume the food of your own choosing,’ stating that it is too broad and dangerous with the potential to cause serious problems in food safety, animal welfare.

Smith said the farm bureau is also concerned that the amendment could override local ordinances that prevent residents from raising livestock anywhere they choose.

Mark Brewer, a political scientist with the University of Maine agreed with criticism that the amendment is so vague that it’s unclear what it would actually do.

“I’d be more interested in how it could play out in the courts,” Brewer said. “If you want to raise cattle within the city limits when city laws say you can’t, but the Constitution says you can. Then what happens?”

For Penobscot farmer, Heather Retberg, the concerns about cows turning up in cities are a silly distraction from the real goal of the proposal.

“This shifts the power to the individuals in a rights framework, instead of the corporations,” Retberg said. “It gives us more voice in how we want our food systems to be, and how we want our communities to look.”

Supporters of the proposal, including Faulkingham, said that local rules would still be enforced, and that the amendment would not mean you could do things like raise chickens anywhere you want or fish commercially without a license.

The amendment proposal is an outgrowth of the right-to-food movement, sometimes called the food sovereignty movement, which has expanded in recent years in Maine and states around the U.S. and Canada.

The movement comprises a patchwork of small farmers, raw milk enthusiasts, libertarians, back-to-the-land advocates, anti-corporatists and others who want to ensure local control of food systems.

Maine enacted a food sovereignty law, the nation’s first of its kind, in 2017. The law allows local governments to OK small food producers selling directly to customers on site. The law was especially popular with sellers of raw milk, which can be legally sold in Maine but is more restricted in many other states.

The nationwide food sovereignty movement has yielded similar laws in states including Wyoming, Colorado, Montana and North Dakota, and pushes for the same elsewhere.


Drought, heat will further tighten hay supplies

Capital Press reported that drought has taken its toll on hay production in the Northwest.

Jon Driver, an industry analyst formerly with Northwest Farm Credit Services and Washington State University and founder of Hay Kings social media group commented during a hay outlook webinar hosted by Northwest Farm Credit, “forage production saw a lot of disruption this year, especially in dryland areas such as Montana, southern Oregon, eastern Washington, northern Idaho and California’s Imperial Valley. We know that hay inventory was already low in Montana … and then we compound that with a second year of drought and greater intensity…”

USDA’s latest crop production report suggests the situation will worsen in Montana, where alfalfa production is forecast down 46.9% year over year on 50,000 fewer acres. The state’s other hay production is expected to be down 38.4% despite an additional 10,000 acres planted.

Montana is not alone. In Washington, Oregon and Idaho alfalfa production is expected to be down 5.8% on an additional 30,000 acres, while production of other hay is also expected to be down 14.3% in the region.

The drought’s impact will also be felt outside the Northwest while California’s other hay production is expected to be down about 4%. That’s not a drastic reduction, but it is lower.

Idaho’s other hay production is forecast down about 34% – a several-hundred-ton shortfall in that dryland grass hay, while the USDA forecasts Oregon’s other hay production 10% lower than last year.

Driver highlighted the different climate regions in the state of Oregon, but noted that even on the west side of the state that grass hay production was down because of temperatures well over 100 degrees, with instances of 118 degrees in Washington.

Those high temperatures extended into the Willamette Valley and along the west coast of Washington where hay production was subsequently down in each of those regions.

Other hay production in Washington is largely irrigated grass hay on the west side. The exception is the Northeast corner, which got hit particularly hard, Driver said.

While he’s is not sure he agrees with USDA’s estimate of Washington’s grass hay production only showing a slight decline, he emphasized that “the big picture here is that production is significantly lower in all of these production regions.”

While high temperatures “offend irrigated alfalfa just as much as dryland production,” Driver noted that when you add in smoke from the wildfires in August that one can only expect alfalfa tonnage to be down even on irrigated production.

USDA’s forecast of about a 9% decline in Idaho’s alfalfa production seems right to him, but he’s not so sure about the agency’s forecast for a 10% increase in California. He also thinks alfalfa production will be lower in Oregon than USDA’s forecasted 3.6% decline as there were irrigation shutoffs in the Klamath Basin – a large alfalfa producing region – despite other valleys having more normal production while still subject to high temperatures and smoke.


Larger livestock loans boost farm lending

According to the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, the demand for livestock loans grew in the third quarter, boosting agricultural lending activity at commercial banks. Demand for operating loans was more subdued however, and total non-real estate lending remained near its average of the past decade. The average size of loans for some livestock categories reached an all-time high and contributed to the increased lending. While the average size of operating loans also remained elevated, a smaller number of loans limited the overall financing of operating expenses.

The U.S. agricultural economy generally remained strong as elevated commodity prices continued to support farm incomes. Although prices of most major crops were at multi-year highs moving into fall harvest and supported farm revenue prospects, weakness in the cattle industry persisted as low cattle prices continued to limit profit margins for producers while concerns about drought and higher input costs continued to intensify and likely contributed to an increase in producers’ financing needs in the livestock sector.

The volume of non-real estate farm loans increased in the third quarter, but some types of lending remained limited. Total non-real estate lending was about 8% higher than a year ago but has declined at an average pace of about 2% over the last four quarters. A large share of the increase during the quarter was due to an increase in loans used to finance feeder livestock and other livestock, which grew by about 20% and more than 50%, respectively.

With sharp increases from a year ago, lending for livestock purchases continued to trend above the recent historical average for the third quarter. The volume of loans for poultry and livestock other than feeders was nearly double the inflation adjusted average during the same quarter from 2010-2019.

Feeder livestock loans were also slightly greater than the recent average while operating loans were slightly less.

The increase in livestock loan volumes was driven by larger loan sizes. The average size of loans for other livestock continued a sharp upward trend, increasing about 30% in the third quarter and reaching an all-time high. The number of other livestock loans was also higher than a year ago but remained historically low. Similarly, the average size of feeder livestock loans has also increased steadily over the past year, but the number of loans declined for the fourth straight quarter.

While the size of livestock loans increased sharply, the growth in the size of operating loans was less pronounced. The average size of operating loans remained elevated but was only about 5% larger than a year ago. The number of operating loans continued to trend downward and remain historically low, limiting any gains in loan volumes.

Alongside an increase in loan sizes, interest rates remained low, and loan durations were higher than recent averages. Rates charged on all types of loans except operating loans declined slightly from a year ago and reached an all-time low for the third quarter. The average maturity of all types of loans, except machinery and equipment loans, were higher than a year ago as well.

Current cattle market daily headlines for October 21, 2021

Beef Contract Library Bill Introduced in House

In May 2021, NCBA met with American Farm Bureau Federation, Livestock Marketing Association, National Farmers Union, R-CALF and U.S. Cattlemen’s Association to discuss urgent concerns and the need for a cattle contract library was one of three priorities agreed upon.

According to Drovers, on Wednesday, Ranking Member of the Livestock & Foreign Agriculture Subcommittee Dusty Johnson (R-S.D) and Representative Henry Cuellar (D-TX-28) introduced the bipartisan Cattle Contract Library Act of 2021, which would create a library for cattle contracts within the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Agriculture Marketing Service Department.

The bill is designed to provide cattlemen with the market data needed to make more informed marketing decisions and exert greater leverage in negotiations with major meatpackers.

The bill instructs USDA to regularly update the library in a user-friendly format and provide weekly or monthly reports as applicable. The Cattle Contract Library will publish information related to the type and duration of a contract, the total number of committed cattle solely to the packer each week, and more.

With a similar library currently in place for the pork sector, the House Agriculture Committee will vote on House Bill 5609 Thursday.



Swift to Acquire Sunnyvalley Smoked Meats for $90M

According to Food Dive, Swift Prepared Foods, a subsidiary of JBS USA, is acquiring Sunnyvalley Smoked Meats for $90 million. The purchase, which is subject to closing, includes Sunnyvalley’s Manteca, California, production facility, and gives Swift an expanded geographic footprint in the smoked segment, as demand for bacon and other pork products continues to rises throughout the pandemic.

Sunnyvalley, which produces smoked bacon, turkey and ham for retail and wholesale customers, has gross annual revenues of $150 million, employs over 300 people, and will continue to be lead by Bill Andreetta, president and founder of the more than 30-year-old business.

After JBS’s second quarter pork revenue hit $10.7 billion, over 25% higher than the same quarter a year prior, JBS S.A. CEO Gilberto Tomazoni said the company was looking to diversify its protein lineup, specifically pork products.

The acquisition of Sunnyvalley gives JBS an opportunity to gain share in a bacon segment dominated in the U.S. by Kraft Heinz’s Oscar Mayer, Smithfield, Hormel and Tyson.



Record High Cattle Sales in Rugby

While selling off a few head here and there is not unheard of, across the region many have been forced to sell more than half or even their entire their cow herds this year due to severe drought conditions.

West Dakota Fox News reported, as a consequence, sale barns like the Rugby Livestock Auction in Rugby, ND have been busier than ever; typically selling anywhere from 60,000-65,000 cattle annually – a number they hit this summer alone with calving season on the horizon.

Rugby Livestock Auction owner, Cliff Mattson commented that a during a typical summer they will sell 200-300 head every other week, but this year demanded weekly sales where anywhere from 2,500 to 4,000 head were sold.

Thanks to recent moisture in the state, sales have slowed down a bit, alleviating a small bit of stress for both local ranchers and sale barn workers but all continue to wait anxiously to see what this winter will bring.



Supply Chain Workers Warn of Worldwide ‘System Collapse’ 

According to the Epoch Times, The International Chamber of Shipping, a coalition of truck drivers, seafarers, and airline workers, has warned in a letter to heads of state attending the United Nations General Assembly that governments need to restore freedom of movement to transportation workers amid persistent COVID-19 restrictions and quarantines.

If nothing is done, they warned of a “global transport system collapse” and suggested that “global supply chains are beginning to buckle as two years’ worth of strain on transport workers take their toll” according the letter signed by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the International Road Transport Union (IRU), and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), which represent some 65 million transport workers around the world.

Gene Seroka, executive director of the Port of Los Angeles, attempted to shed some light on the problem during a recent ABC News interview, noting that there’s a significant backup of container ships off the coast of major ports of entry. “We’re witnessing a pandemic-induced buying surge by the American consumer, the likes of which we’ve never seen,” Seroka said.

Drovers reported that the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach account for 40% of all shipping containers entering the U.S., which is a main source of the bottleneck dilemma. And it’s not just ships waiting to unload. The challenge is further fueled by an insufficient number of truck drivers to get the goods out of the Port and dispersed across the U.S.

Last week, the issue was discussed and debated at the White House. As a result, President Biden announced one solution: expanding operating hours at a key West Coast port. The Biden administration announced a brokered agreement that would turn the Port of Los Angeles into a 24-hour operation, seven days a week. The White House said the expanded hours would nearly double the time that cargo will be able to move in and out of port.

USDA Chief Economist Seth Meyer is currently exploring ways the agency could help facilitate fixes, and what role USDA could play as the Biden administration works through one of its largest challenges. As the situation becomes more dire, economists across the globe are also mixed on just how long it will take to get the supply chain back in standard operating order.

A Wall Street Journal survey found labor shortages and supply constraints to be bigger risks to the economy than Covid-19. While the majority of economists surveyed (more than 30%) say they think supply chain disruptions will recede by Q2 of 2022, more than 10% see the issues lasting into 2023 or later.

Meyer is in the camp it will take months, not years but commented, “It’s not just things like tractor parts, but it’s hauling food products, it’s hauling cattle, it’s all these transportation issues. It’s getting those truck parts back, it’s delivery of food products to the institutions. I think we’ve got a while to sort these things out. When I look at the USDA,” Meyer said, “you’ve got short-run port resolutions as in opening for 24 hours, and then medium-term things where you try to improve the throughput by getting more truck drivers.”

Groups like the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) say there are quick fixes that could help get more drivers on the road, including pilot programs which would allow drivers who are below the age of 21 to drive interstate, but the other barrier the White House could help remove is the maximum weights truck drivers are allowed to carry.

Matt Herrick, Vice President of Communications for the IDFA commented, “We’ve got increased demand in our sector, increased demand for our products. Can we keep those truck weights up in a safe way, but keep them elevated? Can we continue to raise the hours of operation and keep those elevated? And can we do that so truck drivers can stay on the road and make those deliveries in a safe manner?”

As shippers try to raise wages in order to attract more drivers to get on the road, the action not coming without other costs


Current cattle market daily headlines for October 20, 2021

Bovine tuberculosis confirmed in Blaine County, Montana herd

According to the Montana Department of Livestock, bovine tuberculosis has been confirmed in Blaine County.

For the first time in decades, an infected cow at slaughter was identified by meat inspectors during routine inspection at a Minnesota processing plant.

Once the infected animal was linked to a Blaine County herd, subsequent testing revealed three additional TB infected animals. The herd has been placed under quarantine.

Finding bovine tuberculosis in the Blaine County herd has triggered a full investigation to evaluate the extent of the disease, and to mitigate further spread. This effort includes the testing of adjacent herds and herds that have shipped animals into or received animals from the source herd.

State Veterinarian, Marty Zaluski said “We are working closely with the herd owner, United States Department of Agriculture, tribal, and wildlife officials on next steps. The purpose of the investigation is to determine if other herds or wildlife are involved, and if possible, to determine the source of disease introduction.”

Tuberculosis has an incubation period that can range from months to years and infected animals rarely show clinical signs, meaning cattle appearing healthy may be infected with the bacteria.

Although TB is a zoonotic disease capable of infecting and people, it is not a food safety threat thanks to a robust meat inspection program and the pasteurization of milk for retail sale.



Ranchers launch effort to build own meat plants to fight against low beef prices

According to Fox News, like other ranchers across the country, Nebraska’s Rusty Kemp for years grumbled about rock-bottom prices paid for the cattle he raised, even with the cost of beef at grocery stores climbing.

Pointing the finger at consolidation in the beef industry, Kemp and his neighbors have decided it is time to stop complaining, and start competing.

With Federal data showing that for every dollar spent on food, the share that went to ranchers and farmers dropped from 35 cents in the 1970s to 14 cents recently, Kemp launched the audacious plan to raise more than $300 million with fellow ranchers to build a plant themselves.

Crews will start work this fall building the Sustainable Beef plant on nearly 400 acres near North Platte, Nebraska, while other groups are making similar moves in Iowa, Idaho and Wisconsin.

The move is well timed, as the U.S. Department of Agriculture is now taking a number of steps to encourage a more diverse supply in the beef industry, after the Biden Administration stated their concern that the meatpacking industry was “pandemic profiteering.”

While many support Kemp’s efforts, including Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, it’s hard to overstate the challenge, going up against huge, well-financed competitors that run highly efficient plants and can sell beef at prices that smaller operators will struggle to match.

The question is whether smaller plants can pay ranchers more and still make a profit themselves.

David Briggs, the CEO of Sustainable Beef, acknowledged the difficulty but said “Cattle people are risk takers and they’re ready to take a risk.”

Consolidation of meatpacking started in the mid-1970s, with buyouts of smaller companies, mergers and a shift to much larger plants. Census data cited by the USDA shows that the number of livestock slaughter plants declined from 2,590 in 1977 to 1,387 in 1992, with big processors gradually dominating, going from handling only 12% of cattle in 1977 to 65% by 1997.

Currently four companies — Cargill, JBS, Tyson Foods and National Beef Packing — control over 80% of the U.S. beef market thanks to cattle slaughtered at 24 plants. That concentration became problematic when the coronavirus infected workers, slowing and even closing some of the massive plants, and a cyberattack last summer briefly forced a shutdown of JBS plants until the company paid an $11 million ransom.

The Biden administration has largely blamed declining competition for a 14% increase in beef prices from December 2020 to August 2021, all the while, prices paid to ranchers have barely budged.

Kemp and backers of similar plants have no intention of replacing the giant slaughterhouses, but say they will have important advantages, including more modern equipment and, they hope, less employee turnover thanks to slightly higher pay, benefits, more favorable work schedules.

Derrell Peel, an agricultural economist at Oklahoma State University, said noted that research shows even a 30% reduction in a plant’s size will make it far less efficient, meaning higher costs to slaughter each animal. Unless smaller plants can keep expenses down, they will need to find customers who will pay more for their beef, or manage with a lower profit margin than they’re much large competitors.



‘Montanans should be able to choose for themselves’: Tester backs bill to restore food label law

According to the Great Falls Tribune, Federal legislation mandating American consumers be accurately informed about where their beef and pork comes from was first passed by Congress in 2005.

Those Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) requirements were quickly faced with legal challenges from within the World Trade Organization as Mexico and Canada threatened to impose more than $1 billion in tariffs against the United States unless labeling was removed. As a result of this pressure, in 2015 President Barack Obama signed a bill removing Country of Origin Labeling requirements for the two commodities.

The beef industry, nationally and in Washington, has been divided over whether to bring the labels back ever since.

In the six years that have followed since the repeal of Country of Origin Labeling, Montana ranchers have weathered increasingly miniscule profit margins while the big four multinational meatpacking corporations, JBS, Cargill, Tyson and National Beef, have raked in record profits.

On Friday, Montana Sen. Jon Tester announced his support of a bipartisan Senate bill to reintroduce country-of-origin labeling regulations within the next few years.

While speaking at the Montana Farmers Union office in Great Falls, Tester stated “This puts American ranchers who adhere to the strictest safety standards and protocols in the world … on an even playing field, and would ensure that beef raised in the United States is labeled ‘Product of the USA.

Tester has long supported the reintroduction of COOL. He said he fully anticipates corporate packing interests will forcefully oppose the newly composed Senate bill on the grounds that it will impose unreasonably expensive demands upon packers to track and label the inflow of meat from multinational sources.

Country-of-origin labeling is just one component of a larger menu of reforms U.S. beef producers are demanding of Congress. Groups like R-CALF and the Montana Stockgrowers Association are also pushing for legislation demanding greater transparency in how market cattle prices are set, and stronger enforcement of the Packers and Stockyards Act which regulates trade practices within the meatpacking industry.



GOP lawmakers offer an alternative to 30×30 plan

According to the Western Livestock Journal, as an alternative to President Biden’s 30×30 plan, the Senate and Congressional Western Caucuses unveiled a report supporting a holistic approach for locally led conservation, active land and water management, and multiple use.

In a joint statement, Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA-04) and Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) called the recommendations in the Western Conservation Principles report “real conservation outcomes for our lands and waters.” They further stated the report contrasts with the Biden administration’s “preservationist” approach of “locking up” public lands to keep them untouched.

The report states while the Biden administration has since renamed the 30×30 plan to the America the Beautiful initiative, the issue remains ambiguous as to what is defined as “conservation status,” and what percentage of lands and waters meets the 30 percent status.

The 10-year approach posed in the Caucus report focuses on “issues plaguing our lands and waters like invasive species; overgrown, diseased, and infested forests; and post-wildfire restoration.”

To achieve these goals, the report proposes:
• Streamlining the National Environmental Policy Act to increase active forest management.
• Controlling, preventing and eradicating harmful invasive species using recommendations from the Invasive Species Advisory Committee
• Reducing the overpopulation of wild horses and burros.
• Encouraging the Environmental Protection Agency to work with stakeholders to clean up the 1,327 Superfund sites.
• Leveraging the funds available in the Great American Outdoors Act to support long-term public land infrastructure and encourage visitation to our larger and smaller national parks.
• Restoring abandoned mines and orphaned wells by removing administrative, regulatory and liability burdens that can impede critical conservation-restoration work.
• Improving the “checkerboard” land access that mixes federal and private land through better mapping of easements.
• Calling on the Biden administration to abide by the definition of conservation under the Endangered Species Act, utilizing transparent and science-based processes in listings and critical habitat determinations.
• Offering title transfers to address the rehabilitation and maintenance of federal water infrastructure.
• Eliminating the “D.C. knows best” mentality and pursuing policies that encourage healthy landscapes with “those whose livelihoods depend on them.”

The report calls on a collaborative approach to “maximize the conservation benefits provided by activities like grazing, hunting, logging and mineral development” through the expertise of local partnerships and existing shared stewardship authorities.

Agricultural, mining and logging organizations supported the report, while some environmental groups gave lukewarm support. Industry groups called the report a “commonsense approach” to conservation and working landscapes.

Chase Adams, American Sheep Industry Association Senior Policy and Information Director supported the alternative plan, stating “The commonsense recommendations provide a needed and beneficial framework for the president’s 30×30 initiative and recognize the role of all stakeholders in preserving our nation’s public lands through multiple use.”



Consolidation Concerns

According to the Western Ag Reporter, shortly after the deadline to reauthorize the Livestock Mandatory Reporting (LMR) Program for five more years came and went, albeit with a temporary extension, the subject, by no surprise, was one of the main topics of conversation in the fourth of recent Congressional hearings regarding the state of the livestock industry.

The first two panels included testimony from Secretary of Ag Tom Vilsack and U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA). The final panel was made up of producer witnesses including those from the cattle, hog, and sheep sectors, along with a processor.

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) Vice President Todd Wilkinson, a South Dakota cow calf producer and feeder, kicked off the final segment of the hearing with his testimony in which he listed the four priorities of NCBA being:
Price Discovery
Market Transparency
Processing Capacity
Market Oversight

These priorities guided the two-hour panel discussion as U.S. Representatives raised many questions about Congress’ role in each issue.

Wilkinson strongly urged Congress to resist one-size-fits-all policy prescriptions which may have disastrous unintended consequences, and emphasized that careful consideration must be given to the risk and reward of enacting market influencing laws for hundreds of thousands of American ranchers and millions of consumers.”

He urged lawmakers to consider and adopt a “multi-pronged” approach to bring more transparency to the markets and resiliency to the supply chain.

One avenue for more transparency was discussed regarding the reauthorization of the Livestock Mandatory Reporting (LMR) Program.

While all of the producer panelists underscored that the most important step is ensuring the program receives full funding again, some suggested improvements.

On behalf of the National Farmers Union, fifth-generation farmer/rancher, and Oklahoma Farmers Union President, Scott Blubaugh, said while the Livestock Mandatory Reporting (LMR) Program is a critical tool for transparency in the marketplace, the Act has not been updated to meet the modern market issues as so much of the live cattle market is now sold on a contract basis, or marketing agreements, with very little sold on a cash basis anymore.

Blubaugh suggested all livestock marketing arrangements be reported the same as cash basis agreements while Wilkinson agreed that the confidentiality rule hinders the LMR data.

There was a general consensus that an advantageous change could be the creation of a cattle contract library. This is already implemented in the pork industry and aids in price discovery by providing a library of the types of contracts offered by packers to producers, including for those purchased for future delivery.

A conversation with much less consensus that could not be avoided was the topic of increasing negotiated trade.

Blubaugh said his organization is supportive of increased negotiated trade, but he didn’t “have the magic number” as to just how much is needed.

Legislation has been introduced by Senator John Grassley and Senator Jon Tester which would mandate packers to purchase at least 50 percent of their weekly volume on the open market.

Wilkinson said while NCBA is concerned about the declining negotiated trade, they support a voluntary approach to remedy the problem and expressed concern about government mandates. He suggested the bill intended to improve prices for cow calf producers and feeders may instead limit their options.

Another avenue discussed to improve the markets and shift leverage is to create more competition at the packing level with more processing capacity. Many Representatives questioned how USDA’s funding to create and aid small- and mid-sized processing facilities could be best utilized. Both Wilkinson and Blubaugh adamantly agreed that it is essential for the funding to go to the regional packers, not members of the Big Four processors.

Wilkinson said increasing capacity should “deleverage the packers” and take away the “stranglehold” they have on the market.

A representative of the North American Meat Institute highlighted on another concern, stating as a processor, startup costs are a major burden, and lately, labor shortages are a large obstacle, and that cattle supply for new packing facilities could become a concern.

Along those lines, Wilkinson suggested USDA funding isn’t needed just to get small and medium facilities built, but also to cover operating capital and the ability to guarantee loans.

Blubaugh underscored the severity of the consolidated meatpacking sector by sharing the recent examples in which the market was severely disrupted by just a single plant going offline.


Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for April 21, 2021

A new report released today by EY finds that repealing the step-up in basis tax provision would damage the gross domestic product (GDP) and significantly decrease job creation. The study was conducted for the Family Business Estate Tax Coalition, which includes almost 60 organizations representing family-owned businesses.

The EY study found middle-class, family-owned businesses would be particularly hard hit by the repeal. Currently, when someone inherits assets, they aren’t taxed on the appreciation that happened before they inherited them. If family-owned farms, small businesses, or manufacturers are forced to pay capital gains accrued by the prior owner, they would likely face large tax bills that put the future of their business at risk.

According to the study’s findings, repealing the step-up in basis would result in:

  •       80,000 fewer jobs in each of the first ten years;
  •       100,000 fewer jobs each year thereafter; and
  •      A $32 reduction in workers’ wages  for every $100 raised by taxing capital gains at death.

It would also reduce GDP relative to the U.S. economy in 2021, by approximately:

  •       $10 billion annually;
  •       $100 billion over 10 years. ​

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for March 17, 2021

After 20 years of advocacy, black farmers finally get debt relief


  • The Emergency Relief for Farmers of Color Act included in President Biden’s pandemic stimulus bill, directed at Black, Indigenous, Hispanic and other agricultural producers, will forgive 120% of the value of loans from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, or from private lenders and is guaranteed by the USDA.
  • Advocacy groups claim that this debt relief will begin to rectify decades of broken promises and discrimination from the USDA that caused Black farmers to lose approximately 90 percent of their land between 1910 and current day.
  • Those behind the bill say that its main objective is to address failures in two landmark civil rights settlements, Pigford I and II, between the USDA and Black farmers.
  • A significant amount of controversy has surrounded this bill with Republicans accusing Democrats of trying to sneak a reparations policy into an emergency bill instead of going through the proper legislative process.
    • Republicans unsuccessfully sought to amend the legislation and took issues with the 120 percent payment amount and the fact that there is no requirement that farmers show proof of discrimination.
  • According to Representative Austin Scott, a Republican from Georgia who sits on the committee, this bill is “ripe for a reverse discrimination lawsuit.”
    • There is no proof of discrimination. You, by virtue of the color of your skin or your ethnicity, receive 120 percent of your outstanding loan balance, said Scott.
  • Those in favor of the bill countered that the way the bill is set up was the only way to ensure farmers are compensated for not just their debt but also the taxes associated with debt forgiveness.
    • If the bill were written to explicitly cover farmers’ tax obligations, it risked getting bogged down in congressional tax writing committees.
  • The bill has $4 billion earmarked for the program because the Congressional Budget Office estimates that’s how much it will cost to pay off USDA loans to minority farmers, plus 20 percent.
  • According to The Acres of Ancestry Initiative/Black Agrarian Fund, there are currently over 17,000 Black legacy farmers who are delinquent on their loans to USDA ranging from five to thirty years.
  • A timeline of government assistance based on race in agriculture according to USDA:
    • 1990 Farm Bill- $10 million per year for outreach and assistance to socially disadvantaged.
    • 2002 Farm Bill- $25 million per year.
    • 2008 Farm Bill: $15 million allocated in 2009, then $20 million per year for 2010-2012.
      • This Farm Bill gave socially disadvantaged farmers priority for loans and grants. It also established the Minority Farmer Advisory Committee and the Socially Disadvantaged Farmers Group.
    • 2014 Farm Bill: $20 million per year.
      • This Farm Bill established the Socially Disadvantaged Policy Research Center.
    • 2018 Farm Bill: $50 million per year.
    • 2021 Farm Bill: $4 billion towards paying off 120 percent of the outstanding debt of socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.


Brazilian beef processors focus on exports; domestic demand, supply low


  • Brazil is expected to experience another year of record beef exports in 2021, even though the first two months of this year have seen a 6 percent drop in shipments.
  • Abrafrigo, a Brazilian beef industry association, expects a 5 percent increase in the country’s total beef exports in 2021.
    • In 2020, Brazil recorded a record high of 2.02 million metric export shipments.
  • Cattle prices are high in Brazil because of reduced availability as producers work to rebuild their herds. Strong demand for beef in markets like China has also increased cattle prices, which has negatively impacted small and mid-sized beef processors with little or no access to international markets.
    • Decreased domestic demand for beef has also greatly impacted smaller beef processors.
      • Some processors have resorted to furloughing employees because of the tight cattle supply, which has led to record prices.
    • Cattle prices have increased by 53 percent over the 12-month-period ending in February. At the same time, the wholesale price for beef carcasses in the domestic market has increased by 42 percent.
    • Brazil’s three largest beef processors – JBS, Marfrig and Minerva Foods – generate the majority of their revenues from outside Brazil and have been taking advantage of the devaluation of the Brazilian currency to boost margins with international sales.

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for March 16, 2021

Black farmers have long faced discrimination, new aid aims to right past wrongs


  • Many people aren’t aware that somewhere within President Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief law is provisions meant to help Black farmers who have dealt with generations of systemic discrimination.
  • According to the Department of Agriculture, $4 billion has been allocated within the American Rescue plan for “socially disadvantaged” farmers to pay off debts that have prevented their farms from growing.
    • Another $1.01 billion is being used to create a racial equity commission.
      • Socially disadvantaged farmers include African Americans, Hispanics, Asian Americans and Native Americans.
    • According to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, the provisions set aside for Black farmers are an “acknowledgement that acts of discrimination took place.”
      • He believes that discrimination has grown against Black farmers over time and in order for USDA to be equitable and fair, we must address this discrimination.
    • In 1920, Black-run farms accounted for approximately 14 percent of the total in the U.S.
      • Today, Black farmers are less than 2 percent of all farmers.
        • Additionally, their farms tend to be smaller in size. In 2017, the agriculture census reported that Black-operated farms made up 0.5 percent of the total farmland in the U.S.
      • A series of government reports show that local offices within the Department of Agriculture denied or delayed loans to Black farmers starting in the 1960s.


New Mexico border rancher to Biden: ‘Do the right thing and finish the wall’


  • According to Russell Johnson, a cattle rancher from New Mexico, the invasion of illegal immigration during the first month of the Biden Presidency, coupled with the end of construction on the U.S.-Mexico border wall, has caused him and his family to feel “terrorized.”
  • While President Trump was in office, part of the border wall along Johnson’s ranch was built, but construction came to a screeching halt when Biden took office and three-quarters-of-a-mile hole was left wide open.
  • To maintain “some sense of security,” Johnson travels around his property, which his family has owned for more than 100 years, with weapon in hand.
  • Johnson would like to tell President Biden to do the right thing and finish the wall.
    • If finished correctly, the wall will provide improved weather access roads, censor packages, lighting and integrated camera towers.
      • “It’s a complete and total package – it’s not just about the wall. The Biden administration’s decision to stop construction on the wall took away any sense of hope for security for my family, the American public and our livelihood,” said Johnson.


Iowa officials find animal parts strewn across two fields


  • The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has found animal parts from slaughtered cattle spread across two open fields owned by Feedlot Service Company, which is located about 3 miles southeast of Neola.
  • DNR found cattle hides, tails, hooves, bellies, hearts and other parts spread on two fields totaling approximately 160 acres.
    • They also found paunch manure, which is a partially digested stomach content of slaughtered livestock.
  • The feedlot owner said that he has a state license to apply paunch manure to his land, but that license does not include dead animal parts.
    • According to the DNR, improper animal disposal can spread disease and endanger human and animal health.
  • Investigators have collected water samples at the feedlot for laboratory analysis in two locations where paunch manure stockpile runoff entered nearby Keg Creek.
  • The DNR is working with the feedlot owner to excavate and remove dead animal parts from both fields and has directed him to stop runoff from reaching the creek.


Boxed beef prices


  • Choice boxed beef: $223.77 (-1.10)
  • Select boxed beef: $218.05 (-2.22)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for March 15, 2021

Australian billionaire to sell cattle stations


  • Hancock Agriculture and S. Kidman & Co., Australia’s second-largest beef producer, is planning to sell seven cattle stations across Western Australia and the Northern Territory, along with 108,000 hd. of cattle.
  • Gina Rinehart, Australian mining billionaire, owns the Hancock portfolio and is the major shareholder in S. Kidman & Co.
    • In 2020, Rinehart topped the Australian Financial Review Rich List with a personal wealth of $28.89 billion.
  • The seven cattle stations encompass 4.7 million acres that include a strategically located feeding and export facility, along with a farming operation.
  • The agricultural portfolio is hitting the market at an ideal time since Australian cattle prices have surged to record heights with beef demand returning to normal after the Covid-19 pandemic.
    • Cattle prices are also sky high because of a drought that the country has dealt with in recent years which has caused an extreme shortage of cattle.


Sysco sues Tyson, JBS, Hormel in latest price-fixing development


  • Last week, food distributor Sysco filed a lawsuit complaint with the U.S. District Court of Southern Texas accusing U.S. pork producers Tyson Foods, JBS USA, Smithfield Foods, Hormel Foods and others of collaborating in a price-fixing scheme that caused food prices to increase.
    • The lawsuit claims that the price-fixing antics go all the way back to 2009.
      • These same food-processing companies were entangled in a separate poultry price-fixing lawsuit, in which Tyson Foods settled by paying $221 million and Pilgrim’s Pride was fined $108 million after a guilty plea.
    • According to the lawsuit, secret information was shared between meat packers and processors through agricultural databases that contained information about capacity, sales, volume and demand.
      • As a result of this, Sysco paid more for pork than it otherwise would have needed to.
    • Sysco claims that the pork producers shared information through Agri Stats Inc., saying that affiliates of Smithfield Foods, Clemens Family Corp. and Seaboard Corp. all took part.
    • Sysco is seeking treble damages and a jury trial.


Alaska files $1 billion poultry price-fixing lawsuit against 21 companies


  • During the first week of March, Alaska’s Department of Law filed a $1 billion lawsuit against 21 poultry processors.
    • A handful of these processors include, Tyson Foods Inc., Pilgrim’s Pride Corp., Perdue Farms and Foster Farms.
  • The lawsuit claims that a cartel of corporate chicken supplier conglomerates secretly engaged in a vast, illegal conspiracy to restrain production, manipulate pricing and rig bids in order to artificially inflate the price of broiler chickens throughout the U.S., including the state of Alaska.
  • Alaska is asking for civil penalties up to $50 million against each defendant in the lawsuit. The state is also looking for damages, restitution, attorney fees and costs.


Boxed beef price


  • Choice boxed beef: $225.87 (-0.80)
  • Select boxed beef: $220.27 (+0.20)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for March 12, 2021

CME Group launches Boxed Beef Index


  • The CME Group has begun publishing a Boxed Beef Index, a new pricing tool that tracks daily value further down the supply chain.
    • The index will focus on prices paid for Choice and Select cuts of beef.
  • According to Dana Schmidt, director of corporate communications for CME Group, the Boxed Beef Index will offer market participants price discovery across the entire supply chain. It will serve as the latest innovative tool designed to help all CME customers manage their risk.
  • The CME Boxed Beef Index is a five-business day, volume weighted measurement of the daily Choice and Select Cutout prices.
    • USDA will collect the data and publish it in their “National Daily Boxed Beef Cutout and Boxed Beef Cuts- Negotiated Sales- Afternoon report.
  • The index has been set up with four main goals:
    • Provide a transparent daily price that producers, packers, processors wholesalers and others can use to track and forecast beef prices.
    • Customers can compare the daily Boxed Beef Index pricing data to the USDA-reported prices of negotiated fed cattle, or the negotiated prices between the packer and feeder for the animals, to better manage risk.
    • Customers could also compare the Boxed Beef Index to the Pork Cutout Index to gain insight into consumer demand.
    • Essentially, CME Group believes the Boxed Beef Index will become the benchmark price reference for beef.
  • Schmidt closed in saying that the index is a free pricing tool for market participants, not a tradable product. It is fundamentally in place to serve as a risk management tool.


ASPCA commends federal lawmakers for introducing bill to stop extreme-speed animal slaughter during COVID-19


  • On Thursday, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) commended U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) and U.S. Representatives Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Bennie Thompson (D-MS) for reintroducing the Safe Line Speeds during COVID-19 Act to better protect animals, workers and consumers from the dangers posed by higher line speeds in slaughterhouses.
  • The Safe Line Speeds During Covid-19 Act would prohibit slaughter and meat processing facilities from operating at extreme speeds during the pandemic.
    • This legislation would suspend existing line speed waivers and put an end to the issuance of new waivers during the pandemic.
      • It would also halt the implementation of, and conversion, to the New Swine Slaughter Inspection System (NSIS), which removes all limits on pig slaughter line speeds.
    • ASPCA believes that increasing production speeds would put more pressure on workers to move animals quickly, which would endanger animals, workers and food safety.
    • The organization believes that processing plants have failed miserably to protect workers from the rapid spread of coronavirus.
      • Since the start of the pandemic, 517 meatpacking plants have had confirmed cases of the virus and more than 57,500 meatpacking workers have tested positive for the virus.
    • According to Senator Booker, outbreaks of Covid-19 have surged since the onset of the pandemic and the situation only worsened last year when the Trump administration approved more than 20 requests from meatpacking plants to exceed regulatory limits on line speeds despite the risks posed to the safety of workers and consumers.
      • The Senator stated that the Biden administration has taken an important first step in withdrawing the previous administration’s proposed rule to increase line speeds in poultry plants.
        • Going forward it is critical that we prioritize the safety of frontline workers and consumers over the profits of large multinational meatpacking corporations, he said.
      • Representative DeLauro stated that even before the pandemic, meatpacking workers experienced injuries at a higher rate than comparable occupations.
        • Increasing line speeds would make it impossible for workers to practice social distancing and comply with safety guidelines, she believes.
      • Since the pandemic, the public awareness has increased when it comes to industrial agriculture, according to ASPCA.
        • A recent survey conducted by Lake Research Partners found that 82 percent of respondents believe the government should mandate slower slaughter speeds to protect animals, workers or public health.


Boxed beef prices


  • Choice boxed beef: $226.67 (-0.62)
  • Select boxed beef: $ 220.07 (+0.25)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines from March 11, 2021

Missouri cattle market investigation gathers speed, family farm action calls on other states to follow


  • Missouri Representative David Gregory is contending that large meatpackers are coordinating widespread beef price-fixing collusion, which has caused beef prices to rise for consumers and cattle prices to decline.
  • In response to Representative Gregory’s claim, Family Farm Action leaders travelled to Missouri’s state capitol earlier this week to offer their support.
  • Representative Gregory and 25 other state representatives recently filed petition to subpoena evidence requesting the Special Committee on Government Accountability to take action.
  • According to Representative Gregory, Missouri farmers and cattlemen are being harmed by low live cattle prices while the meatpackers are enjoying an all-time high price for their beef products.
    • On the flipside, consumers who greatly enjoy beef are being negatively impacted by higher prices.
  • Wes Shoemyer, a farmer and former Democratic member of the Missouri House of Representatives and Missouri State Senate, and board member of Family Farm Action, said that meatpackers are reaping record profits while farmers and ranchers are barely making ends meet and many consumers are struggling to afford food.
  • Webster Davis, a Missouri farmer and Family Farm Action’s Senior Policy Advisor, stated that the federal government has shown they’re willing to issue meatpackers a slap-on-the-wrist fine at best for their price-fixing and collusion schemes.
    • He believes it is time for states to use their power to stand up to the meatpackers and protect their beginning and established farmers, ranchers, consumers and economies.
  • Family Farm Action will continue to stand behind Representative Gregory on this issue and they plan to call on additional states and provide legislators with the political muscle needed to take on big meatpackers.
    • Additionally, the group is calling on any farmers and ranchers who have been harmed by the meatpackers to reach out to info@farmactionalliance.org and share their story.


JBS in talks to acquire Hebrew National from Conagra


  • According to the Wall Street Journal, JBS SA is negotiating to buy Hebrew National in a deal that also might include Conagra’s Egg Beaters and Odom’s Tennessee Pride breakfast product line.
  • JBS has been focusing on expanding their assortment of brands for the last year.
    • Last month, the meat giant purchased Empire Packing Co. and its Ledbetter branded retail products for $238 million.
  • With that being said, a JBS spokesman reported that there is no guarantee that any deal will be reached with Conagra.
    • The company does not comment on media reports related to potential acquisition activities.


Greece delivers food to cattle ship at sea for months


  • Greece is planning to deliver 50 tons of feed to Elbeik, a ship that has been stuck out in the Mediterranean Sea for almost three months carrying hundreds of cattle.
    • Over the past three months, the ship has made efforts to sell the cattle to numerous countries, but hasn’t been successful due to fears that the cattle may have bluetongue.
      • The ship was also unsuccessful up until this point in replenishing food for the cattle because disease fears were so high.
    • The ship is expected to sail for Spain once the food transfer is completed.


Boxed beef prices


  • Choice boxed beef: $227.29 (-1.74)
  • Select boxed beef: $219.82 (-3.98)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines from March 10, 2021

Brazil’s Marfrig posts record-high profit in 2020


  • On Monday, Brazil’s Marfrig Global Foods SA, the world’s largest hamburger producer, reported a record net profit of $575.6 million in 2020.
    • The company attributes such revenue growth to its operations in North and South America.
  • The meat giant posted $11.8 billion in net revenue for 2020, up 35.3 percent from the year before.
  • Marfrig’s operations in North America accounted for 72 percent of the company’s total revenue.
    • North American operations recorded a 6.5 percent expansion, which resulted in $9.4 billion in annual revenue.
  • Marfrig’s South American operations achieved record exports in 2020 with a 25.4 percent increase in revenue, which equated to $3.24 billion.
  • Additionally, Marfrig reported that its board of directors has proposed the distribution of $24.6 million in dividends to its shareholders.


Profit Tracker: Cattle margins slim, hogs gain


  • Last week, market hogs found twice the profit margin of fed steers thanks to a rally that added almost $22/cwt. to lean hog carcass prices over the last month. Unfortunately, cash cattle prices have been stuck in neutral.
  • Profit margins for cattle sold last week averaged $25/hd., up from the previous week’s $13/hd. profits, according to the Sterling Beef Profit Tracker.
  • Cash cattle prices for last week averaged $113.51/cwt., steady to $0.50 lower than the previous week.
  • Packer margins declined $51/hd. to an average of $372/hd.
    • These profits resulted in the packer/feeder margin spread of $346/hd., down $62 from the previous week’s $408.
  • Packer margins declined due to a $6/cwt. decline in the beef cutout to $233.28/cwt.
    • Last year for the same week, the beef cutout was $205.48/cwt.


Beef, pork exports begin 2021 lower


  • According to January data from USDA, compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), beef exports were down 2 percent and pork exports were down 9 percent compared to year-ago levels.
    • Beef exports totaled 105,047 metric tons in January, while the value slipped 3 percent to $642.8 million.
    • January pork exports totaled 248,656 metric tons, which resulted in the value decreasing 13 percent to $642.8 million.
  • USMEF reported that the decline in beef exports was mostly due to lower beef variety shipments.
  • USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom said that 2021 is off to a good start when it comes to exports, but there are still COVID-related obstacles and significant transportation and labor challenges.


Boxed beef prices


  • Choice boxed beef: $229.03 (-2.05)
  • Select boxed beef: $223.80 (+0.67)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines from March 5, 2021

Cattle market profits need to trickle down to feedlots and cow-calf producers


  • Last week, boxed beef prices climbed to the second-highest price they have ever been at for that time frame.
    • For that same week, cash cattle prices found themselves at the lowest point recorded during the last ten years.
      • This spread between boxed beef prices and live cattle prices is alarming to say the least.
    • It was ten years ago, back in 2011 when we experienced a similar spread between live cattle prices and choice cuts.
    • In the last ten years, live cattle prices have traded anywhere between $119.76 and $136.46 during the fourth week of February.
    • Even when you take the strong boxed beef prices out of the equation, last week’s market still traded anywhere from $5.67 to $22.37 lower than the market’s usual live cattle trend for the last week of February.
      • When you keep last week’s strong boxed beef prices in the equation, a person would think that would be incentive for a stronger cash cattle market, but that is far from what we’re seeing.
    • It is difficult to look back on the recent decade to gain insight into what may lie ahead for the markets in the coming weeks and months.
      • The marketplace has endured an incredible amount of change, and it continues to change at a rapid pace.
        • As it sits today, the cattle industry is facing drought conditions through much of our nation, a phase of the cattle cycle with herds liquidating and beef demand, both internationally and domestically, growing robustly.
      • It is clear that the cattle market is alive and well, but the issue is that the feeding sector and cow-calf producers aren’t reaping any of the benefits from the market’s strength.


Lawmakers plan to investigate high beef prices affecting Missouri cattlemen


  • Missouri Representative David Gregory plans to investigate why consumers are seeing increased costs for beef, while Missouri cattle producers are struggling.
  • According to Gregory, there is strong evidence that packers have been coordinating to suppress the price of fed cattle since as early as 2015.
  • Last week, Gregory and 26 other Missouri House members sent a letter to the Speaker of the House requesting his support of the investigation into price fixing and anticompetitive practices.
  • Gregory said there has been numerous individuals in the industry that have come forward saying they have heard certain conversation or observed certain actions that would elude to illegal activity by the packers.
  • Additionally, Gregory and the other House members plan to look into the shutting down of certain packing plants and the importation of cattle.
  • “This isn’t just a Missouri problem,” stated Gregory. “This is an agriculture cattlemen’s problem across the entire country,”
  • Missouri is the third-largest cow-calf state in the nation with more than 2 million cows.


Texas farm losses seen topping $600 million after winter blast


  • According to preliminary estimates from the Texas A&M University’s AgriLife Extension Service, Texas suffered significant losses in their agriculture industry because of the intense winter storm that hit the state last month.
  • Extension economists estimate losses of $230 million in citrus, $228 million in livestock and $150 million in vegetable crops.
  • According to Jeff Hyde, extension director at Bryan-College Station, freezing temperatures and ice killed or harmed crops and livestock. The winter storm also caused financial hardships and operational setbacks.
    • Hyde believes that the residual costs from the severe storm could plague many producers for years to come.


Boxed beef prices;


  • Choice boxed beef: $233.88 (+0.85)
  • Select boxed beef: $221.68 (-2.56)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines from March 8, 2021

Ballot initiative to criminalize husbandry practices would cost consumers, limit food availability


  • A proposed ballot initiative, known as Protect Animals from Unnecessary Suffering and Exploitation (PAUSE), is awaiting an appearance before the title board after being filed with the Colorado Secretary of State.
    • The ballot initiative would include livestock and would criminalize some of the current actions that are considered acceptable animal husbandry practices.
  • Advocates Alexander Sage and Brent Johannes, said that the initiative would raise the quality of life for all domesticated animals in the state of Colorado by amending the statutes to ensure animals are “treated with more dignity” by closing what they called a “loophole in the definition of a sexual act with an animal” and requiring livestock to reach 25 percent of the natural lifespan before slaughter.
    • The initiative defines natural lifespans as 20 years for cattle; 8 years for chickens; 10 years for turkeys; 6 years for ducks; 15 years for pigs; 15 years for sheep; and 6 years for rabbits.
      • Furthermore, language in the initiative states that animals must be slaughtered in such a way that does not cause needless suffering.
    • During the initiative’s hearing, Jennifer Ritter with the Office of Legislative Legal Services informed the proponents that the proposed language would criminalize various practices most farmers and ranchers partake in. It would also affect industry rules and practices, which Ritter asked if that was the intent.
      • In response, Sage said that their intent is “that the standard of care of all animals is increased regardless of the species: dog, cat, cow, or pig.
    • According to Shawn Martini, Colorado Farm Bureau’s vice president of advocacy, criminalizing the tools and processes that livestock producers use to increase efficiencies to meet consumer demand in providing a safe, affordable and abundant food supply and minimizing the industry’s climate footprint, is foolhardy at best.
      • Martini stated that if this initiative were to make it to the ballot, it would again be a case of neglecting to accept any input from the stakeholders affected by all sectors of the livestock industry. It would also erase billions of dollars from Colorado’s economy.
    • Travis Taylor, a Colorado State University Livestock Extension Agent, explained that Colorado would realistically lose $5 billion in livestock sales, as well as thousands of jobs, which would result in the destruction of rural communities and schools.
    • Besides having domestic consequences, this proposal would also remove Colorado’s ability to export beef to countries such as Japan, who does not accept beef from cattle over 30 months of age.
      • Just in 2018, Colorado exported $50 million in beef to Japan.
    • The proposal may or may not go through the process of revisions, re-hearings and appeals to the title board before a title is affirmed and the proposal may be printed and circulated for signatures.
      • Because this is a statute change, 124,632 signatures would be required.


Iowa Cattlemen respond to introduction of cattle transparency act


  • Last week, Senator Fischer (R-NE) and Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced the Cattle Market Transparency Act of 2021; legislation that attempts to restore transparency and improve price discovery in the fed cattle market by establishing regional mandatory minimum levels of cash trade.
    • The legislation also strives to provide more market information to producers.
  • After thorough review, Iowa Cattlemen’s Association has come to the conclusion that they cannot support this bill.
    • The organization does agree with many of the aspects included in the bill, however they do not agree with the concept of using a three-year average of negotiated trade and negotiated grid purchases to determine a required baseline.
  • A regional mandate using a three-year average would halt further erosion of price discovery and transparency, but it would not address the imbalance of cash trade across the entire industry.
  • Iowa Cattlemen’s Association plans to continue to work alongside legislators and stakeholders in the development of an optimal and appropriate solution for the cattle industry.
    • The organization respects the Cattle Market Transparency Act of 2021, but they believe all participants in the fed cattle market should share responsibility for robust price discovery.


Boxed beef prices


  • Choice boxed beef: $231.33 (-2.55)
  • Select boxed beef: $220.85 (-0.83)


Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines from March 4, 2021

NCBA welcomes discussion on Cattle Market Transparency Act


  • On Tuesday, Senator Deb Fischer (R-NE) introduced the Cattle Market Transparency Act in the U.S. Senate, a bill that would direct the Secretary of Agriculture and the Office of the Chief Economist at the USDA to establish regional mandatory minimums for negotiated trade of fed cattle.
    • Additionally, the bill would direct USDA to establish a library of cattle formula contracts, amend the definition of “cattle committed” to expand the delivery window from 7 to 14 days and clarify confidentiality rules for administering Livestock Mandatory Reporting (LMR).
  • According to Ethan Lane, NCBA Vice President of Government Affairs, NCBA shares Senator Fischer’s objectives, along with its affiliates and the entire industry.
    • However, how the industry goes about achieving these objectives is a hotly debated topic by cattle producers across the nation, stated Lane.
  • NCBA has worked and continues to work alongside their affiliates, Congress and USDA toward regionally robust negotiated trade, the establishment of a cattle contract library and commonsense in USDA’s rules of confidentiality by taking direction from their membership through the grassroots policy process, said Lane.
  • In a statement released on Tuesday, NCBA reported that they have been at the forefront of the conversation regarding the decline of negotiated trades in the fed cattle complex since the issue first arose.
    • The organization’s top priority is to put more of the beef dollar in cattle producers’ pockets.
  • In July of 2020, at NCBA’s 2020 Summer Business meeting, the largest cattle organization in the U.S. decided to take a voluntary approach to achieve robust price discovery within the cattle industry.
    • This voluntary framework is now two months into the implementation phase.
  • The entire industry relies on NCBA’s grassroots policy process to provide a tried-and-true venue to work together on complex issues toward common goals, according to NCBA. Everyone has a seat at the table, and all are welcome to join.


American Farm Bureau voices support for cattle market transparency


  • According to the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), the Cattle Market Transparency Act sponsored by Senators Deb Fischer (R-NE) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) aligns with the goals set forth by the AFBF Cattle Market Working Group in 2020, as well as new cattle marketing policy passed at Farm Bureau’s Virtual Annual Convention earlier this year.
  • AFBF President Zippy Duvall stated that this legislation will ensure farmers and ranchers have fair access to markets and are fully informed on pricing so they can continue to put food on the tables in homes across the nation.


Seven percent of U.S. dairies shuttered in 2020


  • According to USDA, more than 2,500 dairy farms stopped milking in 2020, a drop of 7 percent nationwide.
  • Wisconsin saw 610 farms exit the business, Minnesota 380, Pennsylvania 300 and New York 240.
  • Thirteen states including Minnesota, Ohio and Michigan lost more than 10 percent of their dairies.
  • In 2020, the U.S. produced 223 billion pounds of milk, a 2.2 percent increase from 2019.


Boxed beef prices


  • Choice boxed beef: $$233.03 (-1.65)
  • Select boxed beef: $224.24 (-1.93)


Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines from March 3, 2021

U.S. cattle producers rally around the Cattle Market Transparency Act of 2021


  • On Tuesday, U.S. Senators Deb Fischer (R-NE) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced the Cattle Market Transparency Act of 2021.
    • The bill has been introduced accomplish two goals: ensuring regionally sufficient negotiated cash trade and equipping producers with more information to aid marketing decisions.
  • According to USCA Region 7 board member Lee Reichmuth, this bill builds off the recommendations provided by the USDA in its Boxed Beef and Fed Cattle Price Spread Investigation Report. It also stems from discussions producers are having across the nation in response to historically low cattle prices and a dysfunctional marketplace.
  • Curtis Martin, USCA Region 1 Director, said that Covid-19 brought to light the need for diverse cattle markets. When packing facilities started experiencing bottlenecks in their line speeds during the pandemic, they first cut ties with independent producers, while corporate feeders were unharmed because of their contract agreements.
    • Martin closed by saying that the Cattle Market Transparency Act pulls the meatpacker’s thumb off of the scale, and begins the rebalancing of negotiating power between packer and producer.


Current cash cattle prices are an insult to feedlots


  • Since the first of the year, feedlots have strategized and marketed their cattle to the best of their abilities, but the cash cattle market has been held hostage at $114/cwt., according to ShayLe Stewart.
  • Currently, boxed beef prices are the second highest they have ever been for this time period, yet cash cattle prices are the lowest they’ve been in the last ten years for this time frame.
  • When you look back over the last ten years, live cattle prices have ranged anywhere from $124 to $158 for the end of February.
    • Last week’s average of $114/cwt. was $10 to $44 weaker than what we’ve seen over the last decade.
  • According to Stewart, packers have been able to pressure the cash cattle market and keep it from trading in the 10-year threshold of $124 to $158 by working diligently to build their captive supply for this timeframe.
  • Last week’s cash cattle trade totaled 84,242 head.
    • Ninety-one percent (77,087 head) of that total is committed for delivery in the next two weeks.
    • The remaining 9 percent (7,155 head) is scheduled for delivery in the following 15 to 30 days.
  • A positive through all of this is that very few cattle were procured last week that fall in the later delivery. With that being said, in the coming weeks packers will once again be able to get by without having to support the cash cattle market.


Profit Tracker: Cattle margins crumble hog margins solid


  • During the last week of February, average cash fed cattle prices were steady with the week before at $114/cwt. Despite this, cattle feeding profit margins took a dive.
  • For the last week of February, average feedyard margins were $14/hd., down $68/hd. from the week before, according to the Sterling Beef Profit Tracker.
  • Closeouts showed increasing costs with $8 more per head for feed and $40 more per head for feeder cattle.
    • This resulted in the cost for finishing a steer to increase to $1,538/hd., up from $1,498/hd. last year.
  • Packer margins increased $33/hd. to an average of $430/hd. A year ago packer profits were $69/hd.
    • The packer/feeder margin spread is now at $416/hd., up $110/hd. from the previous week’s $306/hd.
  • The beef cutout increased to $239.19/cwt. One year ago the cutout average was $205.35/cwt.


There goes St. Patty’s Day: 149 tons of corned beef recalled


  • A recent recall of 149 tons of ready-to-eat canned corned beef products couldn’t come at a worse time with St. Patty’s Day right around the corner.
    • The corned beef was imported and distributed all throughout the U.S. without the benefit of FSIS import re-inspection.
  • The issue was discovered after FSIS received a tip from an industry representative. So far, there have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products.


Boxed beef prices


  • Choice boxed beef: $234.68 (-4.35)
  • Select boxed beef: $226.17 (-1.47)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines from March 1, 2021

Colorado now has a statewide meat-free holiday, thanks to Governor Jared Polis


  • To promote meatless diets, Colorado’s Governor, Jared Polis, has declared March 20 “MeatOut Day.”
    • Animal-rights group Farm Animal Rights Movement (FARM) started the MeatOut initiative in 1985.
      • It was created to inform consumers about the benefits of a plant-based diet.
    • By signing this proclamation in support of MeatOut, Polis joins 40 other states and cities that have governors and mayors who have signed similar proclamations in recent years.
    • The proclamation lists the health benefits of a plant-based diet and also the impact it would have on the environment.
      • Since the proclamation was launched in 1985, more than 35 million Americans have given plant-based diets a try.
    • Governor Polis made history when he became the first openly gay governor in the United States.
      • Since he has been in office, Polis has urged the Department of Agriculture to transition to crops that would support the growing plant-based meat industry.
        • Polis believes that meatless meat will become a leading industry in the future, much like marijuana, hemp and blockchain technology.


Cargill launches Black farmer equity initiative


  • Black farmers, who make up less than 2 percent of America’s 3.4 million farmers, continue to deal with systemic injustices regarding property rights, financing and other exclusionary practices, according to Cargill.
    • To combat this issue, Cargill has announced a partnership with the National Black Growers Council and 100 Ranchers to create the Black Farmer Equity Initiative, an initiative that will work to do away with racial inequity in agriculture.
      • The company plans to partner with all sectors of the agriculture industry — ranchers, farmers, restaurants and grocery stores.
    • According to Cargill, the initiative will work with customers, non-profits and others to help increase the participation and profitability of Black farmers.
    • Cargill, along with it’s partners will begin by assembling listening sessions with Black Farmers to map out barriers and prioritize ways to improve market access and financial inclusion.
      • Additionally, the focus will be on sustainable agricultural practices, how to support next-generation agriculture leaders and what needs to be done to advocate for policies that advance equity in agriculture.
    • According to PJ Haynie III, Cargill’s engagement will help create long-term solutions to increase market opportunities and earnings potential for their growers.
    • Globally, Cargill has contributed more than $15 million in the last year to programs that strengthen and support marginalized or underrepresented communities.


Beyond Meat forges global strategic pacts with McDonald’s and Yum Brands


  • Last week, Beyond Meat announced its newly formed partnerships with McDonald’s and Yum Brands, the parent company of Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut.
  • Beyond Meat and McDonald’s set up a three-year global agreement that greatly benefits Beyond Meat as they will be the preferred supplier for the patty in the McPlant plant-based burger being tested in select markets.
    • Additionally, the companies will work together to develop plant-based alternatives for chicken, pork and egg.
  • Beyond’s partnership with Yum Brands is centered on creating plant-based protein menu items over the next several years for Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut.


Boxed beef prices


  • Choice boxed beef: $240.53 (+0.14)
  • Select boxed beef: $229.73 (+0.94)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for February 26, 2021

World’s top meat supplier envisions separate plant-based company


  • The world’s largest meat supplier, JBA SA, plans to set up a new global company focused solely on plant-based products.
  • According to JBS’s Chief Executive Officer, Gilberto Tomazoni, traditional meat will become a luxury in the future and people will turn to cheaper vegetable-derived alternatives.
    • Additionally, the world’s population is expected to grow to 10 billion by 2050. With that substantial increase in population, our world will not be able to produce the amount of meat needed to satisfy the world’s protein needs, said Tomazoni.
  • JBS entered the plant-based meat market in 2019. The meat giant already has a sizable footprint with about 57 percent of the plant-based burger market in Brazil.
    • JBS has 10 plant-based products in more than 3,000 U.S. stores under the OZO brand, which grew by 300 percent last year.
  • Investment money has been flooding into alternative protein startups; just in 2020, a record $2.4 billion was raised to fund these startups.


Cattle stranded at sea for two months are likely dead or ‘suffering hell’


  • Two massive livestock ships departed from different ports in Spain before Christmas to deliver cattle to Turkey, but each were refused entry due to claims that the cattle onboard were suffering from outbreaks of bluetongue.
    • The first ship, Karim Allah, is carrying 895 hd. of cattle. The second ship, Elbeik, is carrying 1,776 hd. of cattle.
  • Despite bluetongue accusations, Spain’s government and the country’s largest association of beef producers, Asoprovac, say that the cattle do not originate from areas with bluetongue.
  • Turkey originally agreed to take the cattle, but when the ships arrived they were rejected based on disease fears.
  • Silvia Barquero, the director of Animal Equality Spain, believes that many animals onboard the ships are most likely already dead and any still alive are “suffering a real hell.”
  • Both ships were scheduled for official veterinary inspections last week in Cyprus and Sardinia, but neither would approach the shore to allow vets onboard.
  • A spokesperson for Spain’s agriculture ministry, described the ships’ plight as a “failed operation by a Spanish exporter, who was going to sell the animals in Turkey, then tried unsuccessfully to sell them in Libya.”
  • Maria Boada Sana, a vet with NGO Animal Welfare Foundation, said that the Karim Allah has not requested feed, which probably means most of the cattle onboard are dead.
  • Currently, Karim Allah is anchored just outside the Spanish port of Cartagena and Elbeik continues to sit at anchor in Turkish waters off the coast of Cyprus.


Profit tracker: Cattle steady, hog margins solid (week ending February 19)


  • As of the week ending February 19, cattle feeding margins were steady at an average of $83/hd., down $2/hd. compared to the week before according to the Sterling Beef Profit Tracker.
    • For the same week one year ago, cattle feeders saw average profits of $162/hd.
  • Cash cattle prices averaged $114.09/cwt., $0.25/cwt. higher than the week before.
    • Last year at this same time, cash cattle prices averaged $5 higher at $119/cwt.
  • Packer margins increased $22/hd. to an average of $389/hd.
    • This resulted in a packer/feeder margin spread of $306/hd., up $24 from the previous week’s $282/hd.
  • Beef packer capacity utilization was estimated at 76.1 percent, down 7.7 percent from the previous week, with an estimated 552,000 head slaughtered.
    • For the same week in 2020, packer capacity was estimated at 86.3 percent with a weekly kill of 625,629 head.
  • So far for 2021, carcass weights are running 16 lbs. heavier at 846 lbs.
  • Beef packers continue to hold the leverage in the current market, as cash cattle prices are $5/cwt. lower than the same week last year, yet the beef cutout price is $28/cwt. higher.
    • One year ago packers saw profits of $69/hd. while cattle feeding margins were $162/hd.


Boxed beef prices


  • Choice boxed beef: $240.39 (-0.36)
  • Select boxed beef: $228.79 (-1.00)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for February 25, 2021

Cattle feeders: Competing to sell cattle for the lowest price


  • In February of 2013, fed cattle were trading at $125/cwt. and the choice boxed beef cutout was at $182.56/cwt.
    • This week we’ve seen the choice boxed beef cutout reach $240/cwt. and cash prices paid to cattle feeders right around $114/cwt.
  • On February 1, 2013, Cargill idled its Plainview, Texas, beef processing facility claiming that tight cattle supplies resulting from years of drought in Texas and Southern Plains states caused the closure.
    • Cargill said in a statement that increased feed costs resulting from the prolonged drought, combined with herd liquidations by cattle ranchers, severely and adversely contributed to their challenging business conditions they were facing.
  • When the closure happened, Len Steiner and Steve Meyer with CME Group Daily Livestock Report explained why it happened:
    • Packers can live with slightly tighter margins when slaughter totals are large, but need higher margins when numbers are tight, according to Steiner and Meyer.
    • Leading up to 2013, parker margins were not good.
      • Beef packer margins were below the 2007-2011 average for almost all of 2012 and were far below those historical levels in the first quarter of 2012.
      • From August 2012 going forward, beef margins were lower than the five-year average every week except for three.
      • From the beginning of 2013 till when the plant closed, beef margins were lower than the five-year average every week.
    • Net beef margins since August 2012 to February 2013, were deep in the red, said Steiner and Meyer. Coupled with prospects of lower cattle numbers through the rest of 2013, Cargill made the decision to close its Plainview, Texas, plant.
  • So, when you look at the markets today, choice boxed beef is at $241.40/cwt. (Wednesday morning) and fed cattle at $114/cwt. Why compared to 2013 is the price for fed cattle 10 percent lower when beef is 25 percent higher? To answer that…
    • Since Cargill closed its plant back in 2013, beef-processing capacity has not seen a substantial increase, while the U.S. cowherd has increased by 2 million head.
      • Today, packers are running at full capacity and have found themselves in a profitable environment since they are able to restrict the amount of beef available to consumers and force cattle feeders to compete for the limited slaughter availability by bidding against each other to sell their cattle for the lowest price.


National Cattlemen’s Beef Association on the state of the industry


  • During NCBA’s virtual Winter Reboot conference, NCBA CEO Colin Woodall and NCBA Vice President of Government Affairs Ethan Lane discussed the organization’s priority issues in Washington, D.C. and the state of the cattle industry.
  • Lane and Woodall talked about the availability of USDA programs to assist farmers and ranchers who have been impacted by the frigid cold this month. They also touched on the impact that Covid-19 had on cattle markets and the work that NCBA is doing to deliver opportunities for increased profitability while also ensuring a steady food supply chain.
  • The two NCBA leaders went on to share the many wins that the NCBA policy team has had such as ensuring the beef industry is eligible for pandemic relief programs.
  • According to Lane, NCBA has a “robust relationship” with senior level leadership across various agencies in Washington, D.C., and those agencies are ready to listen to NCBA’s viewpoint.
  • NCBA continues to ensure the beef industry’s success, stated Woodall. The cattle organization is doing what they do best and that is being the most effective advocate for cattlemen and women in Washington, D.C.


Pilgrim’s Pride pleads guilty to price fixing, sentenced to a $107 million criminal fine


  • Pilgrim’s Pride has pleaded guilty to fixing prices and rigging bids for broiler chicken products and will pay approximately $107 million in criminal fines, according to the Department of Justice.
    • From 2012 through at least 2017, Pilgrims took part in a conspiracy to suppress and eliminate competition for sales of broiler chicken products in the U.S.
      • These actions affected at least $361 million in Pilgrims’ sales of broiler chicken products, according to the plea agreement entered in the U.S. District Court in Denver.
    • Pilgrim’s is the first company to plead guilty for its role in a conspiracy to fix prices and rig bids for broiler chicken products.
      • Thus far, ten executives and employees working for major broiler chicken producers have been charged.
        • The investigation remains ongoing.

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for February 24, 2021

USRSB sustainability modules for feedyards and auctions


  • The U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (USRSB) has released additional sustainability modules for both the feedyard and auction market sectors.
    • These modules expand USRSB’s mission to advance, support and communicate continuous improvement in sustainability across the U.S. beef value chain.
      • These new modules are the second and third in a series and will work to support actions that will improve sustainability in the industry.
    • Preceding these modules are the cow-calf, stocker and backgrounder modules that were launched in the spring of 2020.
    • Modules released by the USRSB provide real-world examples of sustainability practices to put sustainability into practical terms.
    • All of the modules are free to access. The final set of sustainability modules for packer/processor and retail/food service sectors are currently in development and will be completed this year.


Sanburg: A world without the beef checkoff


  • According to Hugh Sanburg, 2021 Chair of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board and a Colorado cow-calf producer, if the beef checkoff were to be done away with like certain interest groups would like to see done, cattle producers across the nation would be heavily impacted.
  • Not only would national beef promotion be impacted without a federal beef checkoff, state checkoffs would also feel the affects.
    • Last year, 44 states received checkoff revenue for local-level beef programming and only 15 of those 44 states have their own state checkoff in place, said Sanburg.
      • If the checkoff were to dissolve, the majority of state beef councils would have very minimal resources for funding their state beef initiatives.
    • Sanburg questions who would promote beef if the checkoff were not in place to do so. He feels that those suggesting ending the program have not considered the void that its termination would create.
    • The beef checkoff isn’t in place to control the markets, said Sanburg, but it does support producers in a lot of ways.


CattleFax; A frozen supply chain.

  • Much like 2020, packing capacity has already been disrupted this year. In the past two weeks, producers have seen capacity cut short due to maintenance and extreme weather conditions.
  • Intense winter weather last week resulted in rolling blackouts and natural gas restrictions at plants from south Texas all the way up to the Corn Belt.
    • Weather conditions have improved, but energy limits are still causing issues for plants.
      • All of this combined has created an estimated 70,000 head backlog of cattle.
    • The frigid temperatures with this winter storm will undoubtedly affect carcass weights for the next several weeks.
      • Cattle shipped to plants last week averaged 30-60 lbs. lighter than the week before, but the actual effect of these extreme temperatures on cattle weights is yet to be seen.
    • It is unknown how the rest of the winter season will play out in terms of cold weather and snowstorms, but what is known is that the Cargill Meat Solutions plant in Schuyler, NE is planning for refrigeration maintenance starting March 18.
      • This shut down in Schuyler will allow processors a favorable leverage position relative to cattle feeders for a little while longer.
        • This leverage is obvious when a person looks at the spread between February live cattle futures and April and June contracts. The February contract is at a near-record discount compared to the spring and summer contracts that follow.


The Beef Read: Premium Shrinks


  • This is the first time since November that boxed beef prices have topped $240/cwt.
  • It is expected that boxed beef will remain well supported through this week, until production can increase enough to cover last week’s lost supply.
  • The range of guesses for this week’s slaughter are 650,000 hd. to 669,000 hd., all depending on who you ask, but in the end, it will all come down to how many plants run on Saturday.
  • Packer margins continue to average over $300/hd. net profit, so the incentive to run is definitely present.


Boxed beef prices


  • Choice boxed beef: $240.29 (+0.31)
  • Select boxed beef: $230.53 (+0.55)


Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for February 23, 2021

Encouraging outlook: current market projections bring good news to beef producers


  • Commercial Cattle Manager and Livestock Market Analyst for DV Auction, Corbitt Wall, was recently featured during The Business of Beef: Health and Management Summit presented by Boehringer Inglehim on February 11 where he explained that the cattle industry is going into a supply trend that producers will like.
  • The USDA revised 2019 cattle numbers down 620,000 head and the calf crop down 468,000 head to start 2020. So now, the cattle industry is working with a total inventory of 93.6 million head, which is significantly smaller than the 94.4 million head that was predicted.
    • Due to this reduction, the industry is now facing tighter numbers of market-ready fed cattle moving into the second quarter of 2021.
      • Producers should be able to gain some ground in the market and see increased demand for yearling cattle and calves.
    • Increased input costs, such as corn trading well over $5/bu. is a situation that producers have not had to deal with in years, stated Wall.
      • China’s increased interest in grain has more than overshadowed the lack of demand from ethanol plants, something that Wall describes as “unbelievable.”
    • Another contributor to increased input costs is cattle carcass weights reaching 1,700 lbs.
      • These increased weights have been good for grading, but the cost of gain is a large contributor to higher input costs, said Wall.
    • As of today, the industry is looking at a finished fed cattle market right around $1.14/lb., which can be expected to move into the mid $1.20s as we head into the second quarter.
    • Feeder steers weighing 800 lbs. are bringing right around $1.40/lb.; this price is expected to increase going forward.
    • Late summer and fall contracts for feeder cattle coming off grass are expected to be in the mid $1.50s. This is a pretty good market, so producers who like this price should consider hedging or protecting this price, explained Wall.
    • Currently, a 500 lb. calf is bringing anywhere from $1.60 to $1.70/lb. As the demand grows for grazing cattle, these lighter calves have the potential to touch $2/lb.
    • According to Wall, the industry needs to have a healthy, competitive finished fed cattle market, and that has not been the case lately. A large part of the industry is in corporate feedyards, and even smaller feedlots have contracts with the packers.
      • Wall said that the Cattle Market Transparency Act is still in the works and this legislation would make it easier for smaller feedlots to get animals into the packer and help formulated feeders because it would increase the base price of cattle.
    • Overall, Wall thinks that producers have things to look forward to because the beef industry has competition in the market and the supply of cattle is building demand.


Hawaii bill takes aim at beef processing consolidation


  • According to a report from the Honolulu Civil Beat, the Hawaii Senate Agriculture Committee is considering a bill that would challenge consolidation in the state’s beef processing industry.
    • The bill would impose restrictions on Hawaii Meats on Oahu and Hawaii Beef Processors at Pauiilo.
      • Frank VanderSloot, an Idaho-based billionaire, leases both processing facilities from the state and controls 70 percent of the state’s beef processing.
    • Even though VanderSloot has promised to increase processing capacity at the plants, the Hawaii government is pondering legislation that would limit how much of that capacity could to towards VanderSloot’s brands.
    • If the legislation passes, VanderSloot’s share of processing capacity would be capped at 50 percent. Additionally, VanderSloot would be required to submit an annual report to the Department of Agriculture on his efforts to meet state goals on food security, sustainability and safety.
      • The remaining capacity would go towards other brands such as Paniolo Cattle Company and Kuahiwi Ranch.


Olymel outbreak cases continue to rise despite plant shut down


  • Despite the Olymel pork plant in Red Deer, Canada being temporarily shut down, coronavirus cases continue to rise.
  • On Friday, an Alberta Health Services official reported that 426 cases had been tied to the outbreak, up 83 from the last report on Tuesday.
  • Due to pressure from the workers’ union, Olymel decided to shut the plant down last Monday.


Olymel’s message to Alberta pork producers


  • Due to Olymel’s pork plant in Red Deer being idled because of coronavirus, the company expects the backlog of hogs to be approximately 80,000-90,000.
    • To address this backlog, the company is moving a significant amount of company owned hogs to the U.S. to create enough plant capacity for all independent hog producers affected by the plant’s closure.
      • This transition is already occurring and Olymel expects the backlog of market ready hogs to be cleared up within 4-5 weeks after the plant is able to resume activities.
    • Olymel has yet to report how long the plant will be shut down.

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for February 22, 2021

South Dakota legislature approves COOL resolution


  • Last week, Senate Concurrent Resolution 604, “A resolution to Support Trade Negotiations to Remove Barriers to Country of Origin Labeling” passed unanimously in both chambers of the 96th South Dakota Legislature.
  • According to James Halverson, South Dakota Stockgrowers Association Executive Director, MCOOL has been, and will continue to be one of the association’s top priorities. People have the right to know where their food comes from and right now that isn’t happening, he said.
  • State Senator Gary Cammack of District 29 led the way on this issue and was the prime sponsor of the resolution.
    • “I appreciate Senator Cammack’s leadership on this important issue and thank all of the sponsors. Once again, I’m happy to deliver this message to the President,” stated U.S. Senator Mike Rounds (R-SD).
      • Senator Rounds went on to say that he supports MCOOL, especially with what we’re seeing in the cattle market today. He feels that consumers have the right to know where their food comes from. It’s imperative that we continue pushing this issue.


USCA calls for the halt of Namibian beef imports


  • United States Cattlemen’s Association (USCA) is calling for the immediate halt of beef imports from Namibia after numerous reports of recent Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) outbreaks in the country.
  • The country of Namibia is split into a north and south region by a Veterinary Cordon Fence (VCF).
    • The fence was built in the mid-1960s, covers more than 550 miles and is passable at 9 permanent checkpoints.
      • North of the VCF is the FMD-infected zone where the most recent outbreaks have occurred.
      • South of the VCF is considered to be an FMD free zone without vaccination.
    • African Buffalo populations that live in Namibia’s region are known to be persistent carriers of FMD.
      • There have been documented cases of wildlife crossing into Namibia through the Zambezi River at shallow points. This has raised concern that diseased buffalo may be able to move into and out of the country as they wish, and easily come in contact with domestic cattle herds.
    • Additionally, Namibia’s elephant population often causes damage to the VCF, which allows other wildlife to travel freely between the country’s Northern and Southern regions.
    • According to USCA President Brooke Miller, FMD is one of the gravest, most serious threats to the health of our domestic cattle herd. An FMD outbreak in the U.S. has the potential to result in $14 billion in losses, including losses from domestic cattle producers, consumers and international trade relations.
      • Furthermore, an outbreak would cause beef prices to soar in the grocery store because of the disrupted food supply chain.
    • Miller feels that the U.S. continues to recklessly pursue trading relations with countries that have known FMD outbreaks.
    • USCA requests that this be a prominent topic in upcoming House and Senate Agriculture Committee hearings.


Tyson, Washington ranch agree to move cattle amidst court dispute


  • Last week, Tyson Fresh Meats and Easterday Ranches reached a court-approved agreement that will allow for the transfer of 52,000 head of cattle that are left in one of Easterday’s feedlots while the companies work through a legal battle in federal bankruptcy court.
  • This agreement comes a month after Tyson sued Easterday alleging that the agricultural operation falsified records stating it had fed more than 200,000 non-existent cattle for years, which ended up costing Tyson more than $225 million.
    • Then at the beginning of February, Easterday Ranches and Farms filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
  • The remaining 52,000 head of cattle will be fed out in one of Easterday’s feedlots and will then be delivered to Tyson’s Pasco plant, according to court documents.
  • No formal process for the sale of Easterday Ranches has yet to be established in the bankruptcy proceedings.


February cattle on feed report


  • Cattle on feed as of February 1, 2021 totaled 12.1 million head, one percent above February 1, 2020.
    • This is the second highest February 1 inventory since the series began in 1996.
  • Placements in feedlots during January totaled 2.02 million head, three percent above 2020. Net placements were 1.96 million head.
  • Marketings of fed cattle during January totaled 1.82 million head, six percent below 2020.


Boxed beef prices


  • Choice boxed beef: $239.23 (+0.38)
  • Select boxed beef: $227.90 (+0.43)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for February 19, 2021

Winter storm Uri batters agriculture supply chain


  • During a Feedstuffs 365 live stream, panelists explained that Texas has been hit the worst by the most recent winter storm that made its way across the U.S. this week.
    • But other key agricultural regions are suffering from logistical and operating issues, as well as energy issues.
      • There is no doubt that both the hog and cattle supply chains are experiencing numerous setbacks and delays because of the dangerous cold, ice and snow.
    • According to Dennis Smith, a commodity broker for Archer Financial, cattle slaughter will most likely drop 40,000 head this week because of the winter storm.
      • Most of the processing issues are occurring in Texas, but there are a few plants in Kansas that are also being idled, shut down or slowed.
    • Smith said that from an energy standpoint and a slaughter standpoint, animals are backing up.
      • These slaughter and energy issues should be resolved by next week, but backlogs of both cattle and hogs will last for a couple weeks.
        • Packers are experiencing extremely profitable margins right now, so they have plenty of incentive to increase their Saturday kill.
      • Smith also said that hog and beef producers are most likely already seeing a reduced rate of gain and weight loss in their animals, along with increased production costs due to increased energy and feed needs.
      • According to Sanderson Farms, the company has as many as 200 broiler houses in Texas without power and experiencing generator failure. They also have 24 broiler houses that had ruptured or frozen water pipes and was without water.
      • Four broiler houses in Mississippi were destroyed after accumulated ice and snow caused their roofs to collapse.


Plant-based wagyu beef is coming to the U.S.


  • More than 4,000 sushi locations in North America will soon be serving plant-based wagyu beef.
  • Top Tier Foods, a Canadian manufacturer that focuses on plant-based sushi ingredients, and Advanced Fresh Concepts came together to develop the plant-based beef product.
    • Advanced Fresh Concepts is owned by Zensho holdings, one of Japan’s largest food service companies.
      • The company has more than 4,000 sushi locations in North America and operates Rouses Supermarkets, a grocery store chain in Louisiana.
    • The plant-based wagyu beef, which is called “waygu,” will be served in teriyaki strip form.
      • The fake beef product is a soy-based food that is made with ingredients such as soy sauce, rice wine, garlic paste and ginger


Profit Tracker: cattle, hog margins improve


  • According to the Sterling Beef Profit Tracker, cattle feeding margins improved $60 per head last week to an average of $85/hd.
    • One year ago, cattle feeders saw average profits of $160/hd.
  • Packer margins declined for the week ending February 12 by $22/hd. Despite this decline, packers are still seeing historically large profit margins at $367/hd.
    • These large profits have created quite the packer/feeder margin spread at $282/hd.
      • This spread is actually down $85 from the previous week’s $367.
    • The packers continue to hold significant leverage in the market with cash cattle prices being $5/cwt. lower than the same week a year ago, yet the beef cutout price is $22/cwt. higher than a year ago.


Where’s the beef? Cattle, money missing


  • In late 2020, the Thomas County Sheriff’s Office in Alabama received a complaint from a stockyard regarding bad checks they had received from a gentleman residing in Hartford, Alabama.
  • The gentleman, Brent Edward Bennett who was doing business under Bennett Cattle Company, is a regular customer at the stockyard.
    • He purchased cattle from the stockyard with a check for $248,000. The feedlot later realized that the funds were not available to cover the $248,000 check.
      • A second check to the stockyard for $149,000 also bounced.
    • When investigators met with Bennett and his lawyer, he said that he writes checks and wires the money the next day, however he refused to provide the requested bank documents and wired money for the $149,000 check that was no good.
    • It was also discovered that along with these checks, Bennett has other invoices at the stockyard that are unpaid; in total, Bennett owes the stockyard $383,000, according to records obtained by the sheriff’s office and USDA.
    • Bennett, 37, is being charged with theft by deception.
      • He was released from the Thomas County Jail on a $10,100 bond.
    • Bennett purchased the cattle and then turned around and sold them to feedlots. The whereabouts of the cattle are unknown.
    • As of Tuesday, the U.S. Secret Service had entered the investigation.


The world will pay more for meat as food inflation deepens


  • Over the past year, food inflation has impacted everyone around the globe.
    • Consumers have seen prices increase for everything from peanut butter to fresh fruit, and it’s about to get worse, specifically for meat prices.
  • Farmers and ranchers are feeling the pressure of increased feed costs as corn and soybean prices have climbed to heights not seen in seven years.
    • Since December 1, corn futures in Chicago have risen 28 percent and soybeans 18 percent.
      • This has resulted in feed costs increasing by 30 percent or more.
    • Around the world, livestock producers are feeling the impacts of increased feed costs.
      • According to Embrapa, a state-owned agricultural research agency in Brazil, the country’s largest poultry shipper saw the cost of producing chickens increase 39 percent in 2020.
      • According to Rabobank senior analyst Chenjun Pan, livestock operations in Europe are being hit incredibly hard by high feed costs. They are also seeing decreased demand due to Covid-19 lockdowns.
        • Pan said that there is a chance smaller hog farmers may be forced to exit the market because of these factors.
      • Despite their large profits, Tyson Foods are increasing their prices to deal with increased costs in the supply chain. Those increases from Tyson will be felt in the coming months with higher price tags on beef, pork and chicken throughout the world.
      • Another contributor of rising meat costs is the animal disease outbreaks, African swine fever and avian influenza, that continues to roll through Europe and Asia.


Corn boom sends farmland value up most since 2012 in Midwest


  • In 2020, agriculture land values increased 6 percent, according to the Chicago Fed’s latest AgLetter.
    • This is the largest gain in land values since 2012 across the Seventh Federal Reserve District, which encompasses most of Illinois and all of Iowa, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin.
  • Lower interest rates and a rebound in revenues from corn and soybeans helped shoot farmland prices upwards.
  • All the states in the Seventh Federal Reserve District saw increased crop production compared to the year before, except Iowa who suffered $11 billion in losses due to the derecho storm that hit in August.
  • A poll conducted with 137 agricultural bankers revealed that 58 percent predict farmland values to increase in the first three months of 2021, 42 percent expect land worth to remain stable, and none of the banks see it declining in the near future.

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for February 15, 2021

Imports of cattle and beef hit a historical high in 2020


  • The USDA recently released their cattle and beef trade data for December, which provided a clear picture of cattle and beef trade for the 2020 calendar year.
  • According to R-CALF USA, the volume of imported beef, cattle, beef variety meat and processed beef hit an all-time high of almost 2 million metric tons in 2020.
  • Data released by USDA also revealed that the average price of fed cattle in 2020 was just under $1.09/lb. At the same time, all-fresh retail beef prices averaged about $6.39/lb., the highest yearly average all-fresh beef price in history.
  • R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard said that this data informs cattle producers and consumers that importing record volumes of cheaper, undifferentiated beef and cattle does not correlate with lower consumer beef prices, however it does relate to severely depressed domestic cattle prices.
  • A USDA chart included in the data shows that the U.S. has consistently imported more beef and cattle than it exports for the past several decades.
    • This has led to a 30-year cumulative trade deficit of over 20 million metric tons, or about 44 billion pounds of beef and cattle.
      • To put this in perspective, in 2020 the U.S. exported 2.9 billion pounds of beef and cattle, the fourth largest export volume in history, but we also imported 4.4 billion pounds. So, for each one-pound of beef and cattle exported last year, we imported over 1.5 pounds of beef and cattle, said Bullard.
      • Bullard believes that it would be best for our domestic food supply chain and our U.S. cattle farmers and ranchers if America stopped displacing the production of our American family farmers and ranchers with billions of pounds of foreign beef and cattle.


Senator Fischer urges Tom Vilsack to work towards mandatory country of origin labeling


  • Nebraska Senator Deb Fischer recently discussed the need for mandatory country of origin labeling with incoming Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
    • Fischer believes that USDA has the tools to market U.S. agricultural products.
  • Fischer said that we need labels on our beef letting consumers know that this beef is born, raised and processed in the U.S. With that being said, Fischer understands that MCOOL is an uphill battle that could possibly have trade implications.
    • NCBA has always and continues to suggest that country of origin labeling needs to be a market driven, voluntary program, rather than a government run program.


Hong Kong culls 3,000 pigs after African swine fever discovery


  • Last week, 3,000 pigs were culled in a herd after it was discovered that African swine fever was spreading through one of Hong Kong’s farms.
    • African swine fever is very rare in Hong Kong; the last outbreak was in 2019 after pigs were imported from the mainland, resulting in the culling of 10,000 pigs.
  • According to Hong Kong’s Agriculture and Fisheries Department, the disease is isolated to the one farm.
  • The USDA released a report of February 5 reporting that Hong Kong has about 43 pig farms, accounting for 15 percent of its live pig supplies.


GOP senators urge Biden to withdraw sheep rule


  • A letter has been sent to the Biden administration by a group of Republican senators led by Senator Kevin Cramer, R-ND, asking the Agriculture Department to withdraw its final rule on the importation of sheep, goats, and certain other ruminants until its impact on current market conditions has been fully evaluated.
  • The proposed rule by the Agriculture Department suggests removing BSE-related import restrictions on sheep and goats and most of their products, and adds import restrictions related to transmissible spongiform encephalopathy for certain wild, zoological, or other non-bovine ruminant species.
    • The proposal is based on internationally accepted scientific literature and the Agriculture Department believes this proposal will align U.S. regulations with guidelines set out in the World Organization for Animal Health’s Terrestrial Animal Health Code.
  • In the letter, the senators pointed out that the federal government has invested over $200 million into scrapie eradication since the early 2000s. This investment has lowered the percentage of scrapie-positive cull sheep at slaughter by 99 percent since fiscal year 2003.
    • If this proposal is passed, there is a chance that the disease could be reintroduced into the U.S.


Boxed beef prices


  • Choice boxed beef: $232.37 (-0.59)
  • Select boxed beef: $220.93 (+0.64)

Current Cattle Markets Daily Headlines for February 12, 2021

Tyson Foods’ operating earning top $1 billion in Q1


  • On Thursday, Tyson Foods reported that its first-quarter adjusted operating earnings rose 24 percent to more than $1 billion.
    • The company gave credit to its robust sales of prepared foods and beef businesses for the increase.
  • Tyson noted first-quarter net sales of $10.5 billion, down from $10.8 billion for the same period in 2020.
  • According to Dean Banks, Tyson’s president and CEO, Tyson’s products are purchased by 81 percent of U.S. households, up 11 percent compared to last year.
  • Dean stated that Tyson’s investment in their plant-based protein line has contributed to its increased earnings since those products bring “tremendous value to the customer.”
  • Tyson’s beef segment sales were noted at $3.99 billion in the first quarter of 2021, up from $3.84 billion in the year-ago period. Their pork sales accounted for $1.44 billion in the first quarter, up from $1.38 billion in 2020. Chicken sales generated $2.11 billion in this most recent quarter, down marginally from $2.14 billion last year in the same quarter.


Easterday Ranches files bankruptcy after Tyson sues over non-existent cattle


  • At the end of January, Tyson Fresh meats sued Easterday ranches to recover losses from fictitious cattle sales and feed costs amounting to more than $225 million.
    • Tyson was also hoping to recover 54,000 head of cattle still standing in an Easterday feedlot north of Pasco, Washington.
  • The Easterday operation is made up of Easterday Ranches and Easterday Farms.
    • The agricultural operation is one of the largest farming and ranching operations in Washington. It includes thousands of acres of farmland, a dairy and thousands of feeder cattle.
  • The Easterday family also owns a Beechcraft King Air 90 airplane, along with a 6,500 square foot airplane hangar at the Pasco airport, according to the Franklin County Assessor’s office.
    • Additionally, in Scottsdale, AZ, the Easterdays own a $1 million 3,594-square-feet second home, according to the Maricopa County Assessor.
  • On February 1, just days after Tyson sued Easterday Ranches, the operation filed for chapter 11 bankruptcies in federal court.
  • Then on February 8, the farming side of the operation, Easterday Farms, also filed for chapter 11 bankruptcies.
  • Over the past decade, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) Conduct Committee has fined Cody Easterday, president of Easterday Farms twice.
    • In October 2015, he was fined for $20,000.
    • In July 2017, he was fined for $30,000.
  • According to Matt Thompson, industry consultant and former feedlot manager, there are huge amounts of money involved in small cattle transactions, but nonetheless, it is difficult to understand how Tyson could have allowed this debacle to happen to one of their larger suppliers, let alone a smaller supplier like Easterday Ranches.
    • Thompson believes that there must be more to the story than what we’re being told.


Raising the steaks: first 3-D printed rib-eye is unveiled


  • On Tuesday, an Israeli company, Aleph Farms, released the first 3-D printed rib-eye steak created from a culture of live animal tissue.
  • Aleph Farms’ new 3-D bio-printing technology uses live animal cells instead of plant-based alternatives to generate whole-muscle cuts, which increases the possibilities of alternative meats.
  • Other companies are also hustling to join the alternative meat market.
    • San Diego-based BlueNalu, is planning to bring cell-based seafood products to the market in the second half of 2021.
    • Israel-based Future Meat Technologies and Dutch companies Meatable and Mosa Meat plan to have cultivated meat products in the market by 2022 using exclusive methods of growing meat tissues from punch biopsies collected from live or slaughtered animals.
  • Despite the effort to increase alternative meat production, the lack of regulatory framework could stand in the way of the market expanding.
    • Here in the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration has yet to set a date for when it will rule on the fake meat.

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for February 11, 2021

Cattle margins slip, hogs in the black


  • Cattle traded more than $1 higher last week, but increasing feed costs erased some of the meek profits found on average feed yard closeouts.
  • For the week ending February 5, according to Sterling Beef Profit Tracker, cattle feeding margins declined $23/hd. to an average of $25/hd.
  • Total cost for finishing a steer has climbed to $1,519, approximately $14 higher than last year at this time.
  • Even though we saw higher bids for cash cattle, packer profit margins increased $3 to $392/hd.
    • The beef cutout price increased $4/cwt., up to $233.71/cwt. As a result, the packer/feeder margin spread is now $367/hd.
  • Meatpacker leverage is obvious with cash cattle prices down $7/cwt. compared to the same week one year ago, but the beef cutout price is $23/cwt. higher than 2020.
  • For the same week one year ago, packers saw profits of $77/hd., while feeding margins were $143/hd.


Growing America; new pains


  • Last week, the $30 billion Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) fund that Trump used to aid farmers suffering from trade wars was taken away from farmers and reallocated for climate change and restaurants.
    • The CCC is a Depression-era financial institution that was created in 1933 and reincorporated in 1948 as a Federal corporation within the Department of Agriculture by the Commodity Credit Corporation Charter Act.
  • While serving as Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue used the CCC fund to help producers that were struggling financially because of retaliatory tariffs, accounting for 40 percent of farm income in 2020.
  • President Biden now plans to use this fund to take on climate change, support restaurants and kick start other programs without having to wait for Congress’ approval.
  • On top of this, Biden plans to increase the capital gains tax to 39.6 percent and do away with stepped-up basis.
    • Wanda Patsche, with Minnesota Living said that these tax changes that Biden plans to make are heartbreaking because so many agriculture producers have spent their whole lives building their operations, and now the government wants such a large portion when a farmer or rancher passes.

Animal rights group targets Costco poultry farm in Nebraska


  • Mercy for Animals, an animal rights group, released a video on their website this past weekend of what it claims are “cruel practices” at a Costco-affiliated poultry farm in Nebraska.
  • Unknowingly, an undercover investigator for the animal rights group was able to gain entry into an unidentified poultry operation in Nebraska that supplies broiler chickens to Lincoln Premium poultry.
    • Lincoln Premium poultry owns a processing plant in Fremont, NE that supplies tens of millions of chickens to Costco annually.
  • The video showed large chickens that had fallen onto their backs, not able to get up because of their weight, open wounds on chickens, ammonia burns, broken bones, twisted necks and beaks and large piles of dead birds outside the poultry barns.
  • In response to the video, Lincoln Premium Poultry spokeswoman Jessica Kolterman, stated that what was put out to the public is “normal, uneventful livestock activity.”
    • She said that the video focuses on the “underbelly of the livestock industry,” instead of showing how the chickens are raised in climate-controlled barns that protect them from the elements and predators.


U.S. beef exports down 2 percent in 2020


  • The U.S. exported 2.96 billion pounds of beef in 2020, down 2.3 percent from 2019.
    • Exports found their way to 123 different countries in 2020.
  • Japan was the top destination for U.S. beef, importing almost 829 million pounds.
    • This was an increase of 3.71 percent from 2019.
  • Following Japan was South Korea, Mexico, Canada and finally Honk Kong rounding out the top five importers.

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for February 10, 2021

FarmlandFinder announces an online farm sale-leaseback program


  • FarmlandFinder has released a sale-leaseback program as part of its online marketplace for farmland.
    • A farm sale-leaseback is when an investor acquires the land from the farm owner-operator and then leases it back to them on a long-term basis.
      • The program offers value to farmers seeking an alternative financing solution.
    • According to Steven Brockshus, Founder and CEO of FarmlandFinder, farmers are looking for ways to unlock equity that’s tied up in their land without giving up control of their property or taking on additional debt.
      • Through the company’s private investment platform, farmers can apply for a sale-leaseback and if they qualify, an investor will partner with them to help unlock equity.
    • According to FarmlandFinder, this program provides value to farmers who are looking for an alternative financing solution.
      • A sale-leaseback provides liquidity to the farmer while also helping them maintain on-going operational control of the land.
    • Sale-leasebacks are used in various situations; one of them being when hard times come around and a farmer needs to free up some cash to keep the operation going. This is obviously a less than ideal situation, but FarmlandFinder still believes it’s a viable option.


R-CALF files opening brief in RFID case


  • On Tuesday, Harriet Hageman, Senior Litigation Counsel for the New Civil Liberties Alliance, filed an opening brief in the Wyoming federal district court related to R-CALF USA’s Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) lawsuit against the USDA.
    • Along with R-CALF, Wyoming ranchers Tracy and Donna Hunt and South Dakota ranchers Kenny and Roxy Fox are listed as plaintiffs in the case.
  • In April 2019, the USDA’s veterinary sub agency, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), published a mandate calling for all U.S. cattle producers to use radio frequency identification (RFID) ear tags on all adult cattle moved interstate by January 2023.
    • Additionally, the mandate would require cattle producers to register their operations with the government.
  • Once the mandate was released, R-CALF USA and other rancher-plaintiffs sued on the grounds that the mandate was unlawful and it challenged existing law that allows cattle producers to choose other options when moving cattle interstate, such as metal ear tags that comes with a much lower price tag.
    • The case also alleged that APHIS violated the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), which requires federal agencies to follow certain protocols when establishing and utilizing advisory committees to safeguard both government transparency and a balanced perspective among advisory committee members.
      • Weeks after the lawsuit was filed, APHIS withdrew its mandate.
    • The latest brief maintains that the defendants, USDA and APHIS, have never claimed to have followed lawful protocols and achieved balance on the advisory committees.
      • Instead, the brief argues that the defendants did not utilize either the Cattle Traceability Working Group, formed in late 2017, or the Producers Traceability Council, formed in early 2019.
    • R-CALF USA and the rancher plaintiffs are seeking an injunction from the court barring APHIS from using the advice and work products it received from the advisory committees as the agency forges ahead to deny cattle producers the choice to use other low-cost technologies as sanctioned by current law.


Fed-cattle prices lowered; average corn prices raised


  • The 2021 forecast for total red meat and poultry production are raised from last month on a higher forecast of beef, pork and broiler production.
  • Beef production is raised from last month mainly because of higher cattle slaughter and heavier than expected early-year cattle weights.
  • The beef export forecast for 2021 is raised on strong demand for U.S. beef in numerous markets.
  • Fed-cattle prices have been lowered for the second half of 2021 due to increased production.


Boxed beef prices


  • Choice boxed beef: $234.29 (-1.91)
  • Select boxed beef: $220.73 (+0.12)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for February 9, 2021

NCBA sets 2021 priorities, elects new president


  • Last week during its virtual Winter Business Meeting, NCBA approved the organization’s top 2021 policy priorities.
    • A continued focus for the cattle organization will be advocating for a business climate that increases opportunities for producer profitability.
  • NCBA’s policy priorities for 2021 revolve around three pressing issues that continue to face the nation’s cattle producers:
    • Price discovery and transparency continues to be a concern for NCBA.
      • NCBA will also focus on continued COVID-19 recovery efforts.
    • NCBA will continue to ensure that all alternative plant-based or cell-grown protein products are labeled appropriately and have all their ingredients listed truthfully.
    • NCBA is committed to protecting cattle producers while strengthening the beef supply chain to meet the growing demand for U.S. beef.
      • Additionally, the organization will work to remove non-tariff barriers to increase worldwide markets for U.S. beef.
    • Jerry Bohn, a cattle producer from Wichita, KS, was elected as the new NCBA president during the virtual meeting.
    • Bohn is a retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves, and has also been a part of the cattle industry his entire life.
    • Bohn stated that he has immense pride for the cattle industry and NCBA’s dues-paying members that help to make NCBA the leading cattle organization representing U.S. producers.


Beef. It’s what’s for dinner. Partners with Chef’s Roll to highlight the Beef Quality Assurance Program from pasture to plan


  • NCBA recently partnered with Chef’s Roll, Inc. to develop a series of five videos that highlight the importance of Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program for ranchers who raise cattle, and the chefs who serve the high quality beef from those cattle.
    • So far, the videos have reached more than 1.3 million viewers.
  • Chef’s Roll is a global network of chefs and hospitality professionals that promote their work through programs and content like the videos developed with NCBA.
  • The video series highlights the pasture-to-plate relationship between ranchers and chefs across the country.
    • Each video follows a chef as they visit a cattle operation to learn how BQA practices are used to sustainably and responsibly raise high-quality beef.
    • The cattle producer then visits the chef’s kitchen to gain insight on how beef is prepared and featured on the chef’s menu.
  • According to Sarah Reece, NCBA Senior Director of Influencer Engagement, these videos recognize and celebrate the commitment of our cattle producers to Beef Quality Assurance standards.


Boxed beef prices


  • Choice boxed beef: $236.20 (+1.62)
  • Select boxed beef: $220.61 (-0.18)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for February 5, 2021

Profit Tracker: growing packer/feeder margin spread


  • Last week, beef packer margins increased $83/hd. to $387/hd., an increase of 20 percent from the week before.
    • Increased profit margins were mostly due to a brisk uptick in wholesale beef prices. For the most part, these increased beef prices did nothing for fed cattle prices.
      • For the same week last year, packers saw profits of $73/hd., $314 less than this year.
    • For the week ending January 29, average prices for fed steers were $112.28/cwt., which resulted in average feeding margins of $47/hd.
      • For the same week last year, feeders saw profits of $185/hd.
    • According to Sterling Beef Profit Tracker, the spread between packer and feedlot profits last week was $340.
    • The beef cutout average was $229/cwt., $11/cwt. higher than the week before.
      • The cutout was also $16/cwt. higher than the same week in 2020, but fed cattle prices were $10/cwt. lower for the same week one year ago.
    • John Nalivka, Sterling Marketing president, forecasts 2021 cash profit margins for cow-calf producers to average $123/cow. He projects an average profit of $43/hd. for feedyards in 2021 and he expects packer margins to average $251/hd.


McDonald’s quietly rolls out McPlant burger in test markets;


  • McDonald’s has begun testing the waters with their McPlant burger as they have started selling the sandwich in Denmark and Sweden.
    • The fast-food giant began selling the McPlant burger at select locations in January in hopes of gaining insight into consumer interest before increasing sales at other locations.
      • The trial run at McDonald’s in Sweden is set to last until March 15 and sales in Demark will run through April 12.
    • McDonald’s came together with Beyond Meat Inc. to develop the McPlant, which is made from pea-based protein.
      • Along with those pea-based protein burgers, the McPlant comes with cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickles, onions, mayonnaise, mustard and ketchup.
    • McDonalds’ Chief Executive Officer, Chris Kempczinski, said that plant-based food options are “an ongoing consumer trend.” His company will be flexible going forward with the McPlant sandwich offering it as a burger, a chicken item or a breakfast sandwich.


Lawsuit says Tyson Foods misled shareholders about Covid-19 protocols


  • On Tuesday, Tyson Foods Inc. was sued for allegedly defrauding shareholders and misleading disclosures about its ability to combat the spread of coronavirus in its packing plants.
  • The lawsuit seeks class-action status and was filed in Brooklyn federal court by Mingxue Guo, who lives in Canada.
    • Guo seeks unspecified damages for Tyson shareholders from March 13 to December 15, 2020.
  • This lawsuit comes after a letter was sent to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on December 15 from New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer.
    • The letter asked the regulator to investigate Tyson’s health and safety disclosures to investors.
  • On December 15, Tyson’s share price fell 2.2 percent and over the next five trading days the price fell 8.5 percent after Stringer accused the meat giant of “flagrantly misrepresenting its poor pandemic response” and requested the SEC examine if Tyson had truly been following federal safety guidelines.
  • Gary Mickelson, Tyson spokesman, defended the company’s efforts during the pandemic, claiming that Tyson spend more than $500 million on employee safety.
  • In his letter to the SEC, Stringer cited reports that Tyson had more than three times as many COVID-19 cases—11,087 as of December 3, and the company also had twice as many deaths as any other meatpacking company.


Boxed beef prices


  • Choice boxed beef: $234.25 (-1.03)
  • Select boxed beef: $220.44 (-2.95)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for February 8, 2021

North Dakota state beef checkoff will remain mandatory


  • Last week, the North Dakota House Agricultural Committee voted down HB 1487, which would have made the state beef checkoff voluntary.
  • The current law states that cattle producers must pay $1/hd. for every beef animal sold in North Dakota to go towards the state beef checkoff, on top of the federal $1 beef checkoff.
  • According to North Dakota Beef Commission Executive Director Nancy Jo Bateman, very few people would have voluntarily contributed to the program if the law had changed.
  • Numerous cattle producers testified in favor of the bill due to problems they have experienced in getting their refunds, and many frustrations about North Dakota dollars supporting the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.
    • Cattle producers made it clear that they are unhappy that NCBA opposes COOL; various testifiers noted that the generic beef promotion done by the checkoff does not necessarily help U.S. or North Dakota producers.
  • Very few individuals spoke against the bill. The individuals that did testify against it, stated that producers have the option to request a refund if they aren’t happy with the management of checkoff funds.
    • They also believe that the beef research, education and promotion done by the checkoff is helping producers. They also stated that if the state checkoff were to be made voluntary, many producers would choose to not contribute.


Bankruptcy judge lets Tyson feed 54,000 cows amid ranch feud


  • Last week, a U.S. bankruptcy judge protected an essential cash fusion for Easterday Ranches Inc., making sure that 54,000 hd. of cattle would be fed.
  • In recent weeks, Tyson Foods sued Easterday Ranches for more than $200 million over misappropriated funds, which led to Easterdays filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
    • After this occurred, Tyson, Easterdays’ only customer, halted payments to the ranch, which caused the family operation to run low on funds, threatening their ability to keep cattle fed.
  • Tyson agreed to wire $1.75 million to the ranch so feed supplies could be replenished.
  • According to Co-Chief Restructuring Officer T. Scott Avilia, if Tyson would not have wired the money, 54,000 head of cattle would have went without feed and been at risk of death.


Smithfield’s sustainability claims challenged in FTC complaint


  • Last Thursday, Food & Water Watch, along with other numerous consumer advocacy groups filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), claiming that Smithfield Foods has made “false claims” about how their pork products are produced.
    • The groups are asking the FTC to make Smithfield remove “misleading” marketing claims, stop making such claims in the future, and disseminate corrective statements in the media.
  • The complaint states that Smithfield Foods is misleading consumers by falsely marketing and advertising its products as being produced in an environmentally responsible and sustainable way.
    • Instead of being sustainably produced, the complaint explains that Smithfield’s products are a result of highly industrialized, dangerous, and extractive practices that recklessly pollute the environment and harm local communities.
  • Smithfield defended its practices saying that the claims are false.
    • According to Keira Lombardo, Smithfield’s chief administrative officer, the complaint has no merit; Smithfield is focused on providing safe, affordable food, while also focusing on sustainability.


Boxed beef prices


  • Choice boxed beef: $234.58 (+0.33)
  • Select boxed beef: $220.79 (+0.35)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for February 4, 2021

Pasco rancher sued by meatpacker over 200,000 ‘missing’ cattle, declares bankruptcy


  • Easterday Farms, one of the largest farming and ranching families in Washington filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Monday.
    • This comes just weeks after Tyson Foods Inc. sued Easterday Farms alleging that the managers defrauded Tyson of $225 million by charging the company to feed 200,000 fictitious cattle.
      • The lawsuit was joined Monday by Spokane-based Washington Trust Bank.
    • An attorney with Washington Trust Bank, Trevor Pincock, told Franklin County Superior Court Judge Samuel Swanberg on Monday that the Easterday family has been transferring assets and selling collateral in violation of its loan agreement.
      • At the hearing in Pasco on Monday, the bank requested and received approval of a temporary restraining order against Easterday Farms to inhibit the operation from selling crops or assets in violation of the loan agreement with the bank.
    • Easterdays and Tyson have been working together for years. Easterday Farms would purchase feeder cattle, feed them and Tyson would reimburse the operation for those costs. The cattle were then delivered to Tyson’s packing plant in Wallula, Washington.
    • According to the lawsuit, Easterday farms claimed to have 186,000 cattle in their feed yard on October 3, 2020, valued at approximately $321 million.
      • Nonetheless, when November and December rolled around, Tyson began to uncover discrepancies.
    • The Easterday family had already put in independent management with full authority to run their operation. Despite this, Pincock requested a temporary restraining order against the management of Easterday Farms to prevent any moves other than normal business operations. Judge Swanberg granted this request.
    • Judge Swanberg stated that a hearing is set for next week and if Easterday Farms has not filed for federal bankruptcy protection at that time, the decision will be made as to whether or not a receivership should be put in place and who it should be.


USDA nominee Vilsack casts farmers as leaders in climate fight


  • On Tuesday, Tom Vilsack said that farmers and ranchers are potential leaders in the new administration’s battle against climate change.
    • He believes that government-funded incentives could get farmers and agricultural companies to adopt climate-friendly practices without implementing increased regulation, and in turn would make U.S. food more attractive in export markets.
      • Vilsack emphasized the fact that these practices need to be voluntary and incentive based for farmers and ranchers to be cooperative.
    • President Biden has set a goal for the U.S. economy to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
      • Vilsack believes that capturing carbon in soil and developing products made from agricultural waste could contribute to that goal.
    • According to Vilsack, if U.S. agricultural goods were produced in a more sustainable way, U.S. agricultural producers would have a competitive edge among global consumers hungry for food that is safe, tasteful, affordable and raised using methods that don’t harm the environment.
    • The pandemic has shown the need for a more robust food supply chain and Vilsack believes that promoting a food system with more, smaller facilities for slaughtering and processing livestock would be beneficial.


Booker gets a spot on Senate Agriculture Committee


  • On Tuesday, U.S. Senator Cory Booker was appointed to the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee.
    • Booker is only the second Black American to hold a seat on the panel since it was established in 1825.
  • According to Booker, the U.S. food system is deeply broken. Family farmers are struggling and many family farms are disappearing, while big agriculture gets bigger and continues to see increased profits.
    • He believes that healthy, fresh food has become hard to find and difficult to afford in both rural and urban communities.
  • Booker looks forward to addressing the urgent concerns around family farms, big agriculture and other urgent issues in the agriculture industry.
  • According to booker.senate.org, in December 2019, Booker unveiled the Farm System Reform Act; a broad piece legislation, but at its core focused on four things:
    • Impose an immediate moratorium on the construction of new CAFOs and phase out the largest existing CAFOs by 2040.
    • Impose the liabilities and costs of pollutions, accidents and disasters on the agricultural conglomerates that control the market rather than on independent farmers who contract with them.
    • Create a $100 billion fund to help farmers who are currently running CAFOs transition to other agricultural operations.
    • Strengthen the existing Packers and Stockyards Act to prohibit a range of contract terms and structures that let huge meat buyers put farmers in a race for the bottom while denying them political and legal recourse.


Boxed beef prices


  • Choice boxed beef: $235.28 (-1.48)
  • Select boxed beef: $223.39 (-1.65)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for February 3, 2021

Senate Agriculture Committee approves Vilsack confirmation for USDA


  • There was bipartisan support on Tuesday as the Senate Agriculture Committee voted unanimously to recommend Tom Vilsack be confirmed as USDA Secretary of Agriculture to the full Senate.
    • Vilsack served as USDA secretary all eight years while Barack Obama was president.
  • During the hearing, Vilsack addressed many issues from coronavirus to climate change to Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) and biofuels.


Vilsack says he’s open to COOL


  • During Tom Vilsack’s Senate confirmation hearing on Tuesday, he said he is willing to consider reimplementation of country-of-origin labeling (COOL) regulations for meat products.
  • Nebraska Senator Deb Fischer asked him if he believes that the current labeling policy adequately informs consumers, Vilsack responded saying, “If it’s the same policy as it was four years ago when I left, the answer is no.”
  • Vilsack said that while he was Agriculture Secretary under President Obama, the USDA made every possible effort to try to create better transparency and better information for consumers, because consumers want to know where their food comes from.
    • He stated that the Obama Administration attempted to strengthen COOL on three separate occasions, but failed because of Canadian challenges to the law through the World Trade Organization (WTO).
  • South Dakota Senator John Thune asked Vilsack about the extreme volatility in the cattle markets and what changes he plans to make to strengthen the integrity of the cattle market.
    • Vilsack responded saying that through the USDA, he would make sure the cattle markets are open, fair and transparent.
    • Vilsack also expressed the need for more processing capacity so that our food system isn’t so reliant on a small number of processors.


Impossible Foods cuts faux meat prices by 20% at grocery stores


  • On Tuesday, Impossible Foods reported that it would cut prices on its fake meat patties by 20 percent at U.S. grocery stores.
    • The decrease in prices arrives as the plant-based protein maker increases production with a larger plan to ultimately undercut ground beef prices.
  • Impossible Foods, along with Beyond Meat have seen respectable growth over the last year as consumers make the shift away from chicken, pork and beef based diets over concerns about their health, their environmental impact and animal welfare.
  • The Impossible Burger will now be priced at $5.49 per burger in about 17,000 U.S. grocery stores.
    • Impossible Foods also plans to implement these price cuts at retail stores in Canada, Singapore and Hong Kong.


Lawsuit challenges FDA approval of additive in Impossible Burgers


  • On January 28, the Center for Food Safety (CFS), filed a legal brief challenging the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval in 2019 of soy leghemoglobin (“heme”), a color additive used to make Impossible Foods’ Impossible Burger appear to bleed like real meat.
    • Soy leghemoglobin is produced in genetically engineered yeast and is modeled on a protein found in the roots of soybean.
  • Bill Freese, science policy analyst at CFS, said in the release that the FDA approved the color additive without conducting any of the long-term animal studies that are needed to determine whether or not the product harms human health.
    • Freese and the CFS find this worrisome since a number of potential adverse effects were detected in a short-term rat trial: disruption of reproductive cycles and reduced uterine weights in females, biomarkers of anemia, reduced clotting ability and kidney problems.
  • According to the CFS, the enthusiasm around meatless products cannot be used for an excuse to skirt food safety laws. This introduction of Impossible Foods’ products highlights a troubling deregulatory trend that prioritizes corporate profits over public health and safety, CFS stated.


Ranchers split on need for traceability system


  • A recent Drovers Pulse Poll has discovered that ranchers are spilt on the topic of a nationwide traceability system in the cattle industry.
    • Forty-nine percent believe the industry needs a nationwide system.
    • Fifty-one percent are against a nationwide system.
  • A total of 214 individuals responded to the poll, mostly from the Midwest, but the East Coast was also represented well.


Boxed beef prices


  • Choice boxed beef: $236.76 (+1.08)
  • Select boxed beef: $225.04 (-0.55)


Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for February 2, 2021

Congress to probe meatpackers’ COVID-19 actions


  • The Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis has informed the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Tyson Foods, Smithfield Foods and JBS USA that an investigation will be launched into coronavirus outbreaks at meatpacking plants nationwide.
  • Since the pandemic first began, approximately 54,000 meatpacking plant workers have tested positive for the virus and at least 270 have died.
  • Committee Chairman Representative James E. Clyburn wrote to the companies saying that meatpacking companies have refused to take basic precautions to protect their workers, many of whom earn extremely low wages and lack adequate pay leave. The actions of these companies have shown callous disregard for workers’ health.


U.S. industry groups call for urgent action on livestock antibiotic overuse


  • The Antibiotics Off The Menu (AOTM) coalition is calling for the Biden administration to address the global threat of antibiotic resistance at the federal level.
    • AOTM is also asking that the restaurant industry continue to take action to limit the use of medically important antibiotics in livestock.
  • The Center for Food Safety works through AOTM to join forces with other public interests, animal welfare and environmental groups seeking to preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics in treating sick people and animals.
  • According to Jaydee Hanson, Policy Director at Center for Food Safety, the U.S. needs to ensure the effectiveness of antibiotics going forward through a mandate to reduce medically important livestock antibiotic use by 50 percent by 2023 relative to 2009 levels.
    • Hanson also stated that a program must be created to track antibiotic use and resistance at the farm level.


Microsoft buys carbon credits from NSW cattle operation


  • Wilmot Cattle Co. of Australia has made an agreement with global tech giant Microsoft to sell approximately half a million dollars worth of carbon credits.
    • The carbon credits come from the operation’s sophisticated grazing management system that produces more than 40,000 metric tons of sequestered soil carbon
  • This is the first global carbon credit sale made by an Australian grazing operation and it speaks volumes to the opportunities for farmers and ranchers to benefit from the emerging carbon market.
  • Wilmot’s have focused on time-controlled rotational grazing, increased stocking density and decreased paddock size over the last decade.
    • Wilmot’s general manager Stuart Austin said that the prospect of being paid for these practices, while building a resilient landscape, encourages the management change and would ensure its longevity.
  • Last year, Microsoft committed to becoming carbon negative as a company by 2030, which means the company plans to have removed from the environment more carbon than it emits.
    • By 2050, Microsoft plans to have removed all the carbon it has emitted directly or through electricity use since the company began in 1975.
      • So far, the tech giant has purchased the removal of 1.3 million metric tons of carbon from 26 projects around the world.

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for February 1, 2021

U.S. oil industry seeks unusual alliance with Farm Belt to fight Biden electric vehicle agenda


  • To fight the Biden administration’s push for electric vehicles, the U.S. oil industry is hoping to create an alliance with the nation’s corn growers and biofuel producers, but so far has been met with resistance.
  • The petroleum industry wanting to form an alliance with U.S. corn growers and biofuel producers is an alliance that can be classified as unusual since they have been rivals for some time now.
    • Nonetheless, these efforts show the level of concern over President Biden’s measure to combat climate change and shutter fossil fuels.
      • Sources say that the biofuel and corn industry aren’t just reluctant to join forces because of their rivalry in the past, but also because the groups do not want to publicly oppose the energy policies of the new president.
    • The fight against electric vehicle policy faces some hurdles as California announced a ban all internal combustion engines by 2035 and other states are considering similar measures.
      • Additionally, automaker General Motors announced last Thursday that it would only produce electric vehicles after 2035.


Cattle wars: Amid lawsuit, Washington’s Easterday Ranches has sold a large feedlots to one of Tyson’s competitors


  • Tyson recently filed a lawsuit against Washington-based Easterday Ranches seeking to obtain a neutral third party to take over Easterday’s operation until accounts could be settled.
    • This suit comes after Easterday supposedly made up hundreds of thousands of fictitious cattle on paper and then claimed to have fed them, which ended up costing Tyson about $285 million.
  • To add to this ongoing story, last week Easterday Ranches sold its major feedlot property in Franklin County, known as the “North Lot”, to a direct competitor of Tyson: Agri Beef Livestock based out of Boise, ID.
    • The North Lot consists of 1,500 acres that includes a large feedlot and irrigated and dry land farming.
      • According to the Franklin County Assessor’s Office, the purchase cost Agri Beef $16 million.
    • AB Livestock is a division of Agri Beef Co., which owns Washington Beef, a competitive beef packer based in Toppenish, Washington.
      • AB Livestock said that the acquisition from Easterday Ranches plays a strategic role in its commitment and vision for growth.
        • Matt Buyers, President of Agri Beef Livestock said in a press release that this purchase will increase the company’s business with local Northwest suppliers, and it will also decrease reliance on cattle supplies from Canada.
      • Easterday Ranches only made up 2 percent of Tyson’s total beef on a national scale, but they made up a much larger portion of Tyson’s non-disclosed beef processed at the Tyson plant near Pasco, WA, which is widely known for making beef patties for Wendy’s.


No tuna in Subway’s tuna sandwiches and wraps, lawsuit claims


  • According to a lawsuit filed against Subway, the fast-food chain’s tuna salad sandwiches and wraps don’t include any actual fish.
    • The lawsuit was filed two weeks ago in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on behalf of two California residents.
  • The complaint states that Subway mixes together various concoctions that aren’t tuna, but the mixture comes out to imitate the appearance of tuna.
  • A spokesperson for Subway denied all the claims in the lawsuit stating that the company delivers 100 percent cooked tuna to its restaurants.
  • This suit isn’t the first legal dispute that raised questions regarding Subway’s products.
    • In September, Ireland’s Supreme Court ruled that the bread Subway uses in its sandwiches could not legally be called bread due to its high sugar content.
    • In 2017, an appeals court threw out a class-action settlement over claims that the chain’s “footlong subs” were an inch shy of what was actually advertised.


January 1 cattle inventory down slightly


  • USDA revised the 2019 beef herd numbers to show a smaller calf crop, which many were expecting with the increased heifer slaughter in recent years.
  • All cattle and calves in the U.S. as of January 1, 2021 totaled 93.6 million head, slightly below the 93.8 million head on January 1, 2020.
  • All cows and heifers that have calved, at 40.6 million head, slightly below the 40.7 million head on January 1, 2020.
  • Beef cows were noted at 31.2 million head, down 1 percent from year-ago levels.
  • Milk cows were noted at 9.44 million head, up 1 percent from last year.


Boxed beef prices


  • Choice boxed beef: $233.95 (+1.96)
  • Select boxed beef: $222.70 (+1.82)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for January 29, 2021

USDA freezes $2.3 billion supplemental CFAP


  • Late in the day on Wednesday, USDA reported that $2.3 billion in the supplemental Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) payments would temporarily be frozen.
  • According to the White House memo, Regulatory Freeze Pending Review, USDA has suspended the CFAP- Additional Assistance processing and payments and has halted implementation until further notice.
    • FSA local offices will continue to accept applications during this time, but no checks will be cut while the program is being reviewed.
  • The memo went on to say that in the coming days, USDA and the Biden Administration would be taking additional steps to bring relief and support to all parts of food and agriculture during the pandemic.
  • Just days before President Biden was sworn into office, former President Trump expanded eligibility for CFAP 1 and 2 programs.
    • This expansion was mostly directed at contract pork and poultry producers and others previously excluded from the relief payments.


Missing British Columbia rancher’s family offers reward


  • Ben Tyner disappeared on January 26, 2019 in a remote area northeast of Vancouver, B.C., while looking for cattle. At the time, the Nicola Ranch in B.C employed Tyner.
    • Tyner’s family members are now asking for information on his disappearance two years after he was last seen.
      • A reward is being offered by the Tyner family for any information that locates their son and leads to the conviction of those responsible for his death.
    • The RCMP searched for Tyner for a week before suspending their search, partially due to frigid temperatures.
      • Jesse O’Donaghey, RCMP Southeast District spokesperson, reported that police cannot share their findings regarding the ongoing investigation, however they do believe that Tyner was a victim of homicide.


Shipping container shortage reaches critical levels, investigation is now underway


  • There has been a shipping container shortage for quite a while, but the shortage has now reached critical levels causing shipping costs to soar, almost 300 percent in some cases.
    • One exporter even went as far as saying that this shortage threatens the world food supply.
  • An investigative report by CNBC found that international shipping carriers rejected almost 180,000 export containers at four major U.S. ports during October and November.
    • This equated to a loss of $630 million dollars.
  • According to Bob Sinner, President of SB&B Foods, 30-40 percent of his company’s total exports have either been delayed or cancelled, forcing the company to use airfreight to Asia instead.
  • Redwood Logistics CEO, Mark Yeagar told CNBC that it is not just U.S. competition causing the problem. He estimates three in every four containers from the U.S. are going back to China empty to be refilled with more profitable Chinese exports.
  • Some carriers believe that the issue is unintentional and being caused by the pandemic. Nonetheless, the Federal Maritime Commission has launched an investigation to determine if carriers have violated the Shipping Act, which makes it illegal for them to “unreasonably refuse” cargo.


Prime Pak explosion kills 5, injures 10


  • On Thursday around 10:12 AM, five people were killed and another 10 taken to the hospital with injuries after a nitrogen leak and explosion at Prime Pak Foods’ plant in Gainesville, GA.
    • Three of the ten taken to the hospital were reported to be in critical condition.
  • Prime Pak makes value-added products from beef, pork and poultry meats for foodservice and retail customers.


Boxed beef prices


  • Choice boxed beef: $231.99 (+2.33)
  • Select boxed beef: $220.88 (+1.89)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for January 28, 2021

Biden pauses oil and gas leases, cuts subsidies in ‘bold’ climate steps


  • On Wednesday, President Biden signed a plethora of executive actions to combat climate change.
    • These actions included pausing new oil and gas leases on federal land and cutting fossil fuel subsidies to pursue the green policies that he claims will be a benefit to the economy.
  • The President’s actions could not be more opposite of former President Trump who sought to maximize U.S. oil, gas and coal output.
  • Biden stated that the U.S. has waited too long to address the climate crisis. Taking on climate change and increasing our economic growth and prosperity are one in the same, he claims.
    • Building a modern and resilient climate-related infrastructure and a clean energy future for the U.S. will create millions of good-paying union jobs.
      • This statement comes at a time when thousands of jobs have been lost due to the president terminating the Keystone XL Pipeline permit, according to Tri-State Livestock News.
    • International partners and environmental advocates have been more than happy to see Biden’s focus on climate change, but those involved with the oil industry are less than thrilled saying that these moves will cost the U.S. million of jobs and billions of dollars in revenue at a time when the U.S. economy is struggling due to Covid-19.
    • Biden also set a goal to conserve 30 percent of federal land and waters to protect wildlife by 2030 and seek to double renewable energy production from offshore wind also by 2030.
      • Almost a quarter of America’s oil and gas supply will come to a halt with this move, which has drawn intense criticism from states that depend on drilling revenue.
    • John Hess, CEO of energy company Hess Corporation, said that the Biden administration must to be mindful of their climate change agenda and the impact that it will have on jobs and energy security.
      • The new administration needs to realize that oil and gas is a strategic engine for the U.S. economy.


Beyond Meat shares soar 26% as company teams up with PepsiCo to make plant-based snacks and drinks


  • On Tuesday, Beyond Meat and PepsiCo announced that they have come together in a joint venture to create, produce and market snacks and drinks with plant-based substitutes.
  • After the news was released, shares of Beyond Meat jumped as much as 31 percent, while Pepsi’s stock only rose about 1 percent.
    • Just in the last year, Beyond Meat’s shares have gained 65 percent.
  • This partnership will work well for Beyond Meat, as they will be able to leverage Pepsi’s production and marketing expertise for new products.
    • This partnership will be beneficial for Pepsi because they can deepen their investment in plant-based products, which continue to grow in popularity.


Controversy ensues after Taiwan expands access for U.S. red meat


  • On January 1, Taiwan implemented market access changes for imports of U.S. beef and pork.
    • Taiwan eliminated the rule that U.S. beef must be under the age of 30-months; they now accept beef of all ages from the U.S.
    • For pork, Taiwan established maximum residue limits for ractopamine residues, doing away with the zero-tolerance policy that was formerly in place.
  • Even before these changes, Taiwan was a key destination for U.S. beef, as annual exports exceeded $500 million, according to Joel Haggard, U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) senior vice president for the Asia Pacific.
    • Taiwan is the sixth largest market for U.S. beef.
  • When December data becomes available, USMEF believes that U.S. beef exports to Taiwan could set another new record in 2020.
  • Throughout the pandemic, Taiwan’s beef demand has been steady due to the country doing a phenomenal job controlling the spread of the virus.
  • Pork is a politically charged issue when it comes to Taiwan’s ractopamine policy change.
    • The country’s opposition party, Chinese Nationalist Party, plans to oppose the measure.
    • The new policy change has led to an expansion of country-of-origin labeling requirements to include processed products.
  • Haggard believes that the opposition to this policy change may cause U.S. pork exports to slow a bit, but Taiwanese buyers are familiar with the safety and quality of U.S. pork, and demand will most like gradually rebound.


Boxed beef prices


  • Choice boxed beef: $229.66 (+0.60)
  • Select boxed beef: $218.99 (+1.66)
  • The choice boxed beef cutout is the third highest for the last week of January in history.

Current Cattle Markets Daily Headlines for January 27, 2021

Rural America, prepare for Biden’s newly-proposed tax


  • When President Biden chose South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg as Transportation Secretary, many questioned the president’s choice, but soon after it was clear that Biden chose Buttigieg for his idea that America should move away from the gas tax and instead opt into a tax based on the number of miles a person travels.
  • As of today, the federal gas tax is 18.4 cents per gallon and 24.4 cents per gallon for diesel.
  • According to Buttigieg, the gas tax has not increased since 1993, and it has never followed inflation, which is one of the reasons why there are more funds going out of the Highway Trust Fund than coming in.
    • He believes that as America moves more towards electric cars, the gas tax won’t be effective anymore.
      • To remedy this, Buttigieg wants to consider taxing Americans on the number of miles they drive.
    • If the Biden administration does move forward with the idea of taxing Americans by the number of miles they drive, rural America would be overwhelmingly affected.
    • This tax proposal is just one of the many reasons why the deepened divide between the urban and rural populations continues to grow.


Biden administration puts brakes on faster meat plants


  • President Biden has wasted no time overturning various Trump-era policies, and his most recent move is one that will impact the chicken industry.
  • Earlier this week, the USDA withdrew a proposed rule that would have allowed meatpackers the ability process up to 175 birds per minute, instead of the current ceiling of 140 birds/minute.
  • According to Food and Water Watch, the withdrawal will protect food safety and workers’ health.
  • The National Chicken Council hopes that Biden’s USDA will eventually allow the chain speed increase.


Canadian researchers say their cultivated meat is the meatiest


  • Researchers at McMaster University School of Biomedical Engineering in Hamilton, Ontario have discovered a new technique for creating cultivated meat that they claim will provide more natural flavor and texture compared to other alternative meat options.
  • For this new technique, researchers stack sheets of cultivated muscle and fat cells grown together in a lab to be about the thickness of printed-paper.
    • Before the cells die, the sheets bond naturally together, so they can be combined into any level of thickness.
      • According to researcher Ravi Selvaganpathy, this new stacking method will allow cultivated meat to mimic any level of fat content and marbling; essentially, consumers will have the opportunity to buy meat with whatever fat percentage they desire, he stated.
    • So far, the project has used mouse and rabbit meat, but researchers believe that the stacking technique would work well with beef, pork or chicken.


World beef production declines


  • In 2020, the world produced 60.28 million metric tons of beef, down 1.36 million metric tons compared to 2019.
  • Notable beef production by country in 2020:
    • Australia produced 2.115 million metric tons of beef in 2020, down 317,000 metric tons from 2019.
    • The U.S. produced 12.38 million metric tons of beef in 2020, down 3,000 metric tons compared to 2019.
    • Brazil produced 10.1 million metric tons in 2020, down 100,000 metric tons from 2019.


Boxed beef prices


  • Choice boxed beef: $229.06 (+2.33)
  • Select boxed beef: $217.33 (+1.12)


Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for January 26, 2021

North Dakota considers making state beef checkoff voluntary


  • Representative Sebastian Ertelt of Libson, ND has introduced a bill in the North Dakota House of Representatives that would make the state beef checkoff voluntary.
  • In 2015, North Dakota cattle producers who supported the checkoff’s promotion, research and education efforts came together with the idea of adding a new, refundable dollar to the mandatory $1-per-head national checkoff.
    • The bill was enacted that year, 2015, in North Dakota’s Legislative Assembly to require all cattle sold in North Dakota or sold by a North Dakotan to pay an extra $1/hd. to the North Dakota Beef Commission.
      • North Dakota sale barns are required to withhold these funds from producers’ checks and producers who sell private treaty are required to submit payment to the beef commission.
      • Currently, producers can request the proper form within 60 days of payment, send the form with the appropriate additional paperwork required, and their checkoff dollars can be refunded.
    • House Bill 1487 would make a basic change to the law; instead of the law stating that producers “must” remit the state checkoff, Ertelt’s bill would amend the law to say that producers “may” remit payment.
      • This successfully changes the mandatory refundable checkoff program into a voluntary checkoff program.
    • According to the Independent Beef Association of North Dakota President Kerry Dockter, many producers still don’t realize this money is being taken out of their checks.
      • Dockter and his organization support the proposed bill to amend the law. He doesn’t believe the state checkoff funds are being used wisely because cattle prices have not improved and alternative proteins seem to be gaining popularity.
    • According to the North Dakota beef commission website, the state beef council received in $2,275,536 in fiscal year 2020. This includes the mandatory $1 per head federal beef checkoff and the mandatory refundable $1 per head state beef checkoff.
    • In a 2015 interview, North Dakota Stockmen’s Association executive vice president Julie Ellingson said that her association’s members support the state checkoff because they believe cattle producers in their state are missing out on opportunities to fund research and education.


Biden administration: what will happen to your taxes


  • Various agricultural groups worked hard to make significant tax policy advances for agriculture in the 2017 Tax Cut and Jobs Act, but now that the Democrats have control those efforts may all go out the window.
  • In the last couple of Congressional sessions, Republicans enacted business-friendly policies, but going forward, Democrats will most likely focus more on raising taxes on those with a high net worth and businesses.
    • For farmers and ranchers, the key issue will be how the Democrats’ tax policy addresses the estate tax and capital gains taxes on how much capital changes hands at death, as well as how farm businesses are set up.
  • The increased federal estate tax exclusion of $11.7 million for married couples and 40 percent tax, are set to expire the end of 2025. After that time, the federal estate tax exclusion amount will be back to $5 million.
    • According to Pat Wolff, senior director of congressional relations at the American Farm Bureau Federation, Democrats would like to shrink this exemption as far down as $3.5 million.
      • Roger McEowen, professor of agricultural law and taxation at Washburn University School of Law in Topeka, KS said that when you combine the exemption suggestions with proposed stepped-up basis changes, you create a massive problem that will effect just about every farming and ranching operation.
    • Even though President Biden promised no tax rate increase for those who earn less than $400,000, McEowen says that is “a misrepresentation and misleading sleight of the hand.”
      • At the end of the year, rates are less important than profitability; rates may not go up on taxable incomes beneath that threshold, but farmers and ranchers worry about increased costs due to regulation and taxes other than just incomes taxes.
    • Step-up in basis reduces capital gains tax liability on property passed down to an heir by excluding any appreciation in the property’s value that occurred during the decedent’s lifetime from taxation.
      • If you don’t get that step-up basis, even a fairly small farming or ranching operation with a worth of $500,000 could see the effective combined federal and state capital gain tax rate of 25-30 percent, explained McEowen.
        • He added that step-up basis has been a savior for farmers and ranchers, as well as businesses in transition planning.
      • Wolff closed by saying that the main priority when it comes to agriculture is making sure tax policy continues to create a profitable environment for producers and tax policies need to be put in place that allows for the transfer from one generation to the next.


Boxed beef prices


  • Choice boxed beef: $226.73 (+3.91)
  • Select boxed beef: $216.21 (+2.87)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for January 25, 2021

Daines blasts Biden for nixing Keystone XL Pipeline Permit, will introduce bill to keep construction moving forward


  • Last week, President Biden nixed the Keystone XL Pipeline permit. In response to this, U.S. Senator Steve Daines of Montana will introduce legislation to authorize the continued construction of the project.
    • Daines is the Chair of the Senate Western Caucus and sits on the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
  • Daines believes that the pipeline is critical to energy producing states like Montana.
    • The project will create thousands of jobs, generate tax revenue for local communities, promote North American energy security and independence and it is the safest and most environmentally friendly way to transport oil, stated Daines.
  • The Keystone XL Pipeline is projected to provide about 11,000 direct high-paying jobs and up to 60,000 indirect and direct jobs. It is expected to generate tax revenue, increase renewable-energy demand, reduce emissions and strengthen North American energy independence.


JBS USA, Pilgrim’s Pride offer $100 to U.S. employees who get the Covid-19 vaccine


  • Last Thursday, JBS USA and Pilgrim’s Pride announced that they would be paying $100 to U.S. employees who voluntarily receive a Covid-19 vaccine.
  • The meatpackers are hoping that this bonus will encourage employees to get vaccinated for coronavirus after thousands of meatpacking workers became sick with the virus in 2020.
  • To promote the vaccine, both meat giants launched education campaigns for their workers.
    • Surveys show that 60-90 percent of employees at individual plants are willing to be vaccinated.


New China swine fever strains point to unlicensed vaccines


  • China continues to recover from African swine fever (ASF), but a new form of the virus has been detected in the country and industry insiders are saying it is most likely caused by illicit vaccines.
  • Two new strains of ASF have infected more than 1,000 sows on numerous farms owned by New Hope Liuhe, China’s fourth-largest producer.
    • The company’s chief science officer, Yan Zhichun said that in addition to the sows, pigs being fattened for the firm by contract farmers have also come down with the new strains.
  • Unlike the original ASF virus, the new strains do not kill pigs; instead they cause a chronic condition that reduces the number of healthy piglets born, according to Yan.
    • Yan added that these new strains are missing one or two key genes present in the wild African swine fever virus that wreaked havoc in China during 2018 and 2019 when half of China’s 400 million-head pig herd was wiped out.
  • In hopes of protecting their pigs, Chinese farmers have resorted to unapproved products.
    • Industry insiders and experts worry that these illegal vaccines have created accidental infections, which are now spreading.
  • The new ASF strains could find their way around the world through contaminated meat, which would infect pigs that are fed kitchen waste.
    • In the past, the virus has been known to survive for months in some pork products.
  • China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs has issued at least three warnings against the use of unauthorized African swine fever vaccines, cautioning that they may have severe side effects.
    • Users of these vaccines could be charged with a criminal offense.


R-CALF Director to speak at Atkinson Livestock Market


  • On Tuesday January 26, Atkinson Livestock Market will host a rollover calf sale fundraiser at noon.
  • R-CALF Director Brett Kenzy will be present to speak about the organization working for U.S. cattle producers, their newly launched Cattle Industry Long Range Plan and their checkoff petition campaign.
  • Those who wish to support R-CALF and their efforts can bid on the calf, then donate it back so it can be auctioned off repeatedly, until bidding ceases.
  • Those who are unable to attend the event in Atkinson, NE can make a contribution by contacting R-CALF at (406) 252-2516 or by email at r-calfusa@r-calfusa.com or you can contact Karina Jones at (308) 760-3466.
    • Contributions over $100 will receive a 1-year membership renewal to an R-CALF USA membership.


Cattle on feed report


  • Cattle on feed as of January 1, 2021 totaled 12 million head, up slightly from 2020.
  • Placements in feedlots during December totaled 1.84 million head, one percent above 2020.
  • Marketings of fed cattle in December totaled 1.85 million head, one percent above 2020.
    • Marketings were the second highest for January since the series began in 1996.


Boxed beef prices


  • Choice boxed beef: $222.82 (+1.62)
  • Select boxed beef: $213.34 (+3.06)

Current Cattle Markets Daily Headlines January 21, 2021

Tyson Foods reaches more settlements in chicken price-fixing litigation


  • On Wednesday, Tyson said that the company plans to pay $221.5 million to settle a price-fixing lawsuit with two groups of plaintiffs that accused the meat giant of illegally conspiring to inflate prices in the chicken industry.
    • The settlements with end-user consumers and more than 30 commercial purchasers were disclosed in filings on Tuesday in the federal court of Chicago.
      • Terms of the settlements were not disclosed and court approvals are required.
    • Last week, Tyson agreed to settle related antitrust claims by purchasers who bought chickens directly from the company.
    • Restaurants, supermarkets, food distributors and consumers accused chicken producers of having conspired since 2008 to inflate chicken prices by restricting production and sharing nonpublic data about supply and demand.


U.S. to ban imports of all cotton and tomato products from China’s Xinjiang region


  • According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. has imposed a region-wide ban on all cotton and tomato products from China’s western Xinjiang region due to allegations that they are being produced by forced labor from detained Uighur Muslims.
    • This ban will include raw fibers, apparel and textiles made from Xinjiang-grown cotton, as well as tomato-based food products and seeds from the area.
      • S. Customs and Border Protection estimates that about $9 billion of cotton goods and $10 million worth of tomato products were imported from China into the U.S. in 2020.
    • The United Nations estimates that at least 1 million Uighers and other Muslims have been detained in Xinjang, and many of those individuals have been put to work.
      • Multiple media outlets have reported that more than half a million Muslims are pressured into picking cotton and a million more are in detention camps where they are forced to work in textile factories.
    • The Chinese government has denied mistreatment and claims that the camps are vocational training centers needed to combat extremism.


“Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner 300”: Beef checkoff teams up with NASCAR


  • The beef checkoff has teamed up with NASCAR to sponsor a race one day before the iconic Daytona 500.
  • The “Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner 300” will be broadcast live from Daytona International Speedway on Fox Sports 1 at 4 PM CST on Saturday, February 13.
  • According to Clay Burtum, NCBA’s Federation’s Vice Chair, this is an exciting opportunity to showcase the “beef its what’s for dinner” brand on broadcast television.
  • The federation of state beef councils will be sponsoring broadcast commercials to be aired during the race. These commercials will be produced by NCBA, a contractor of the beef checkoff, and they will feature the “beef its what’s for dinner” brand.


Trump pardons three involved in beef misbranding scandal


  • Before leaving office, President Trump pardoned a slew of individuals; among those individuals were Gregory, Deborah and Martin Jorgensen of South Dakota.
  • In 1996, the Jorgensens were convicted of knowingly selling misbranded beef under their premium Dakota Lean brand by mixing in inferior commercial trim.
    • The demand for their heart-healthy, antibiotic-free and hormone-free beef product outpaced supply, according to a White House statement.
  • Since the incident, the family has taken part in decades worth of public service and expressed remorse for their actions.
    • Gregory has served on the Tripp County Board of Commissioners, Deborah is a lifelong member of a non-profit dedicated to promoting educational opportunities for women and Martin was named National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Businessman of the Year.


Boxed beef prices


  • Choice boxed beef: $218.91 (+1.42)
  • Select boxed beef: $207.28 (+0.84)


Current Cattle Markets Daily Headlines January 20, 2021

Bans on GMO corn, glyphosate in Mexico would shrink food supplies, industry says


  • On December 31st, a decree was passed in Mexico to ban the use of genetically modified corn (GMO) over the next three years.
    • Industry officials are now warning that this move has the potential to upend the country’s food supply, including its thriving livestock sector.
  • The same decree also aims to ban the herbicide glyphosate, which is used in Mexico by thousands of small and large farms to boost crop yields.
    • Since late 2019, Mexico’s environment ministry has stopped all permit approvals for glyphosate imports.
  • Mexico has never allowed seeds containing GMOs to be planted, but the country does import millions of metric tons of GMO corn for its livestock sector and for other industrial uses.
    • The decree does not state how the country will replace the supplies if GMO corn is not imported.
  • USDA has referred to Mexico’s policy as “increasingly uncertain” under President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
  • Those supporting the decree argue that GMO seeds can contaminate native corn strains.
    • These supporters have also pointed to research that shows glyphosate causing cancer and elevating insect mortality.
  • Mexico imported roughly 18 million metric tons of mostly GMO corn last season, which equated to about 40 percent of national consumption.
    • Mexico is the biggest foreign market for U.S. yellow corn, which is almost all genetically modified.


USDA unveils $2.3 billion in new Covid-19 aid, mostly for livestock farmers


  • Last Friday, USDA announced that it would pay an additional $2.3 billion in Covid-19 aid to farmers.
  • Approximately 87 percent of these funds are reserved for farmers who raise pigs and poultry under contracts with food companies like Smithfield Foods and Tyson Foods.
    • Contract farmers were hit hard by the pandemic when they were forced to cut back on production due to the virus shutting down slaughterhouses, according to USDA.
      • “The impacts of slowdowns and shutdowns at processing facilities in late spring and early summer are still being felt in the poultry and swine industries,” the USDA said.
    • Contract farmers were not eligible for Covid-19 aid through the previous USDA relief programs.
    • Contract farmers are able to receive payments if they produced hogs or poultry under a contract for the last two years and had lower revenue in 2020 compared to 2019.
    • USDA will also double payments to non-contract hog farmers from its first round of 2020 Covid-19 relief.
      • These farmers will receive an extra $17/hd. for pigs owned from April 16 to May 14, 2020.


Nebraska bill would help local processors, consumers with options


  • Nebraska Senator Tom Brandt introduced a bill last week that is meant to help local meat processors expand capacity and offer consumers more options.
    • The bill would create an assistance program to expand processing facilities and help widen market access for smaller producers.
      • Additionally, it would let Nebraska consumers buy individual packages of meat directly from producers or processors.
    • According to Brandt, the herd share program was successfully implemented in Wyoming in response to the effects of Covid-19 for the benefit of producers and consumers.
      • This legislation would give Nebraska consumers the chance to buy high-quality Nebraska meat, which would be extremely beneficial during times when grocery store shelves end up empty, stated Brandt.
    • Industry groups representing large-scale producers are cautious of Brandt’s legislation. They worry that food safety could be compromised since consumers would have the ability to buy shares of animals processed at sites without a federal inspector present.


Boxed beef prices


  • Choice boxed beef: $217.49 (+2.45)
  • Select boxed beef: $206.44 (+0.60)

Current Cattle Markets Daily Headlines January 19, 2021

Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak spreads further in Namibia


  • Last week, Namibia’s ministry of agriculture reported another outbreak of food-and-mouth disease in cattle located in the north regions of Oshana and Ohangwena.
  • Movement of all live cloven-hoofed animals into and out of the regions has been banned.
    • Additionally, the government has banned the transportation of other potentially infectious commodities out of the infected areas.
      • These items include hides, skins, game trophies and plant materials.
    • The first of recent FMD outbreaks began back at the end of September when the disease was discovered in the Ndiyona constituency in the northern region of Kavango East.
      • Since then, eight of the country’s fourteen regions have been affected by the restrictions on movement.
    • Namibia is famous for their free-range, hormone-free beef that has found its way into the Chinese, European Union and American markets, but with recent outbreaks of FMD, there is concern that a cattle export ban may be implemented.


NCBA calls for continued vigilance in response to another Namibian FMD outbreak


  • Kent Bacus, NCBA’s Senior Director of International Trade and Market Access, believes that the continued presence of FMD outbreaks in Namibia is something that should concern U.S. cattle producers.
  • Namibia is separated into two zones; the northern zone where FMD outbreaks continue to occur and exports to the U.S. banned, and the southern zone that is FMD free and is designated as safe for export.
    • To prevent the spread of FMD from the northern to the southern zones of Namibia, the country has a cordon fence and a buffer zone.
  • NCBA supports research to develop protocols and determine the economic impact of regionalization of states or an area to establish risk avoidance for animal diseases.
    • Furthermore, Bacus and NCBA realize that FMD is a highly contagious disease that would devastate the U.S. cattle industry, thus the organization continues to support USDA’s efforts to prevent our herd from exposure.


Fired Tyson managers dispute alleged ‘betting pool’ stories as false and distorted


  • According to Tom Hart, former Waterloo Tyson plant manager, no one bet on how many plant workers would get sick with coronavirus.
    • Hart, along with six other managers were fired back in December after an independent investigation was launched into allegations that a betting pool was established around how many plant workers would get sick with Covid-19.
  • Hart and Don Merschbrock, former Waterloo Tyson night manager, claim that the pool never existed in the way it has been portrayed by the media.
    • The men admit that there was a spontaneous $5.00 office pool, but it was never about betting on how many employees would get the virus.
  • Merschbrock and Hart say that the pool only lasted ten minutes, and was a simple conversation among managers regarding the completion of a mitigation effort inside the plant.
    • Hart claims that the managers believed their efforts in the plant would be more successful than what was being done throughout the community at the time.
      • Merschbrock said that the pool was about the plant having fewer cases than the community at the time.
    • Tyson’s Waterloo plant is their largest pork processing facility, employing 2,800 workers. Last spring, more than a thousand workers tested positive for the virus and four died.


USDA, USTR name new agricultural policy, trade advisors


  • On Friday, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer announced the selection of 67 members to serve on seven agricultural trade advisory committees.
  • The Agricultural Policy Advisor Committee (APAC) is made up of senior representatives from the U.S. agriculture community. These representatives provide input to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative on trade policy issues.
    • Those newly appointed or reappointed to the APAC are Julie Anna Potts, North American Meat Institute and Collin Woodall, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.
  • The Agricultural Technical Advisory Committees (ATACs) provide technical advice and guidance from the perspective of their particular product sectors.
    • Those named to the ATAC include Kent Bacus, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Kimberly Ratcliff, Caney Creek Ranch, Michael Schumpp, North American Meat Institute, Kent Swisher, National Renderers Association, Warren Gfeller, Stranger Valley Ranch and Rachel Cumberbatch, Animal Health Institute.
  • This group of appointed individuals will serve until 2025.


Boxed beef prices


  • Choice boxed beef: $215.04 (+2.12)
  • Select boxed beef: $205.84 (+2.76)


Current Cattle Markets Daily Headlines January 18, 2021

America’s biggest owner of farmland is now Bill Gates


  • The fourth richest individual in the world, Bill Gates, is also the top private farmland owner in America owning 242,000 acres of farmland across the nation.
    • According to Forbes, Gates’ net worth is almost $121 billion.
  • Gates has land spanning across 18 states with his largest holdings in Louisiana (69,071 acres), Arkansas (47,927 acres) and Nebraska (20,588 acres).
  • In addition to this farmland, Gates also has a stake in 25,750 acres of transitional land on the west side of Phoenix, AZ, which is currently being developed as a new suburb.
  • Gates’ involvement in agriculture goes beyond purchasing farmland. In 2008, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced $306 million in grants to promote high-yield, sustainable agriculture among smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
    • Since then, the foundation has invested in the development and proliferation of “super crops” resistant to climate change and higher yielding dairy cows.


CattleFax; Drought and feed costs.

  • Bred cows averaged $54/hd. higher in 2020 compared to 2019. Bred heifers were $22/hd. higher and pairs were $38/hd. higher year-over-year.
    • This comes as a surprise to many considering the volatility in the cattle market throughout 2020 and the relatively stale calf prices over the past few years.
  • There is clearly some optimism from cow-calf producers for better calf prices in the coming years, the main reason being tighter supplies.
  • In 2020, the beef cowherd declined 375,000 hd., and it is expected to decline another 300,000 hd. in 2021, as of January 1 inventories.
    • The resulting smaller calf crops should equate to higher prices and better demand.
  • Many producers are running at maximum inventory levels, but drought and higher feed costs are proving to be a challenge. As of today, it looks as if Mother Nature is going to stand in the way of producers being able to maximize numbers during a time when prices are expected to move higher.


CattleFax; Slaughter cow update.

  • Slaughter cow prices in the month of December averaged $55.36/cwt., compared to $57.94/cwt. in November. Last year in December, slaughter cows were averaging $56.29/cwt.
  • Beef cow slaughter in 2020 was up 2.5 percent at 3.27 million head. Dairy cow slaughter totaled 3.06 million head, down 4 percent from 2019.
  • A seasonal rally for slaughter cows is expected to develop over the next few months due to tighter supplies and stronger 90 lean trim values.
    • Slaughter cow prices are expected to reach a high near $70/cwt. by late winter or early spring, the majority of the rally will come by the end of February.


Staggering decline in hide share of cattle value


  • Historically, an animal’s drop credit (non-meat by-products of beef production) has made up 8-10 percent of the animal’s value.
    • The hide has made up the majority of this share receiving 6-8 percent of the total value of the animal.
  • Between 1989 and 2011, hides averaged 58.3 percent of the total value of cattle by-products for a steer weighing approximately 1,000 lbs.
    • In 2000, this reached a high of 67 percent.
    • In 2015, the hide value dropped to 48 percent of total by-product value.
    • When 2019 came around, hides only made up 37 percent of the total drop credit.
    • Today, hides only make up 15-20 percent of the total by-product value of the animal, down almost 50 percent from a few years ago.


Beef. It’s what’s for dinner. Launches “MBA Next Gen”


  • The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association has launched MBA NextGen, a series of updated advocacy training modules for the Masters of Beef Advocacy (MBA) program.
  • MBA NextGen will make it easier for a new generation of farmers and ranchers to share their story and advocate intelligently for the beef industry.
  • These new training modules will be a free, self-guided online course that will provide tools and resources for anyone to become a beef advocate.


Boxed beef prices


  • Choice boxed beef: $212.92 (-0.45)
  • Select boxed beef: $203.08 (+2.01)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for January 14, 2021

Nicaraguan beef processor gears for U.S. market expansion


  • Nicaragua’s Nuevo Carnic, the largest purchaser of Nicaraguan beef products, has announced that it will be expanding its presence in the United States.
    • The company provides an extensive variety of vacuum-packed beef products for restaurants and grocery stores.
      • Their products are sold in 15 countries.
    • According to Nuevo Carnic, the company is a leader in the organic fertilizer market and leads the way with its sustainable agricultural practices that include advanced feedlots, wastewater management systems, a reforestation initiative and a commitment to cattle traceability.
    • Nuevo Carnic’s manager, Enrique Moncada, said that cattle traceability is an important issue within the Nicaraguan beef industry. Each animal is ear-tagged in a system that can trace it back to the farm it originated from.
    • Nicaragua exports more than 95 percent of its domestic beef production, more than any other country.


China’s 2020 meat imports close to 10 million metric tons, up 60 percent on the year


  • China, the world’s largest consumer of meat, imported 9.91 million metric tons of meat in 2020.
  • Year-over-year, this was approximately a 60 percent increase in imports, mostly due do to China’s pork output dropping 19 percent in the first half of 2020 when African swine fever swept through their hog herd.
  • The U.S. is China’s largest supplier of pork and in 2020, China’s imports of U.S. pork increased 223.8 percent.
  • China ramped up their testing of imported chilled foods over fears of coronavirus in the second half of 2020, which caused imports to slow a bit, however they were still able to keep a healthy pace.
  • China is expecting their pork production to increase 10 percent in 2021, since they have aggressively restocked pig farms throughout the country.
    • According to Rabobank, this will cause Chinese imports of pork to drop by as much as 30 percent next year.


Mead, NE resident says toxic waste from AltEn plant is cause for serious concern


  • The small village of Mead, NE, which has roughly 500 residents, has been dealing with serious problems caused by toxic byproducts produced by the local AltEn ethanol plant since 2018.
    • Despite the residents’ best efforts, the plant has not taken into consideration the concerns of the community.
  • The AltEn ethanol plant uses a rare method to produce its ethanol; it uses grains that have been treated with Neonicotinoids, better known as Neonics.
    • Besides the plant in Mead, there is only one other plant that uses the same method and it is located in Kansas.
  • Neonics are a neurotoxic insecticide. When grain treated with Neonics is used to produce ethanol, a green, toxic byproduct is produced.
  • Jody Weible, a longtime Mead resident and former planning commission member believes the green, toxic byproduct is causing health problems throughout the community.
    • She worries that the toxic byproducts have the potential to threaten the water supply in Mead and surrounding areas.
      • “Our well is only 40 feet deep and the ethanol plant has tens of thousands of tons of toxic byproduct sitting on bare ground, no barriers, no cement. It’s going to eventually leech into one of Nebraska’s biggest aquifers,” said Weible.
    • Just in 2020, the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy (NDEE) received 5 different complaints because of the toxic waste at the plant.
    • The NDEE has given the ethanol plant until March to fix the issue and remove the toxins.


The beef read; further on down the line


  • Cash fed cattle prices weakened this week as cattle feeders looked to get cattle gone for multiple reasons ranging from mud, corn prices to needed pen space.
  • Cash cattle are currently trading $14 cheaper than last year and they’re at a 10-year low.
  • Even though we’re seven months removed from the production slow down, getting cattle moved each week is a struggle, especially for cash market sellers who follow all the committed cattle who come first.
  • The cattle industry’s position will slowly improve over the next three months as currentness recovers and weights drop below the 2020 average.


Boxed beef prices


  • Choice boxed beef: $213.37 (+2.37)
  • Select boxed beef: $201.07 (+2.01)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for January 14, 2021

Tyson also proposes settlement in broiler price-fixing case


  • On Monday, Tyson Foods reported that the company agreed to settle a portion of a class action lawsuit that was filed four years ago accusing major poultry processors of fixing prices for broiler chickens.
    • Tyson did not disclose the amount of the settlement with the Direct Purchaser Plaintiffs.
  • Much like Pilgrim’s Pride who agreed to pay $75 million to settle their portion of the same lawsuit, but wouldn’t admit to any of the accusations of price-fixing, Tyson also doesn’t own up to any of the allegations.
  • Tyson went ahead with this settlement because the company believes it was in the best interests of the company and its shareholders.


Brazil environmental fines fall 20% as deforestation soars


  • Ibama, Brazil’s main environmental enforcement agency, handed out 20 percent fewer fines in 2020. This comes at a time when the Brazilian government is rolling back conservation efforts and Amazon deforestation is skyrocketing.
  • In 2020, Ibama gave out 9,516 fines, compared to 11,914 in 2019.
  • Conservative president, Jair Bolsonaro, took office in 2019 and since then he has worked to weaken Ibama by cutting their funding and appointing managers who have weaker policies against illegal logging, farming and mining.
  • According to Bolsonaro, more commercial farming and mining in the Amazon rainforest is needed to lift the region out of poverty.
  • Last year, Amazon deforestation hit a 12-year high when an area of the forest comparable to the size of London was cleared.


Nebraska lawmaker wants legislative COVID protections for meat plant workers


  • Nebraska State Senator Tony Vargas, has introduced a bill, LB 241, that would provide new protections for employees of meatpacking plants.
    • The bill would require processors to provide masks, adequate space for social distancing within the plants and paid sick leave for workers who test positive for the virus.
      • This paid sick leave would be accounted for separately from any other paid sick leave.
    • Senator Vargas introduced a similar proposal last summer, but the bill failed to advance.
      • Vargas’ father passed away from complications due to coronavirus in 2020.


OCM’s top 2021 priorities include checkoff reform, COOL and antitrust enforcement


  • The Organization for Competitive Markets has summarized the three major focus areas for policy they would like to see enacted on a national level.
    • According to OCM Executive Director Mike Eby, the organization is backing the Opportunities for Fairness in Farming Act, a bill that would increase transparency in checkoff programs.
    • Eby is hopeful about working with the new Biden administration on strengthening antitrust enforcement at the Department of Justice to help improve competitiveness in the markets.
    • Their third priority is to get mandatory country of origin labeling (MCOOL) reinstated.
      • The organization wants to see a mandatory program instead of a voluntary program because they feel that a voluntary program allows too many loopholes that harm profitability potential for U.S. cattlemen.


Nebraska man sentenced for letting more than 200 cattle die


  • On Tuesday, Aaron Ogren, of Exeter, NE, was sentenced to 15 to 20 years in prison for letting more than 200 cattle die and for selling livestock he didn’t own.
  • Thirty-one year old Ogren was arrested last April when sheriff’s deputies found more than 200 dead cattle on land near Exeter that Ogren was supposed to be caring for.


Boxed beef prices


  • Choice boxed beef: $211.00 (+1.86)
  • Select boxed beef: $199.06 (+0.97)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for January 13, 2021

January WASDE feed/grain report


  • The January 2020/2021 U.S. corn outlook calls for lower production, reduced corn used for ethanol, smaller feed, residual use and exports and decreased ending stocks.
  • Corn production is estimated at 14.182 billion bu., down 324 million on a lower yield and slight reduction in harvested areas.
  • Total corn use is down 250 million bushels to 14.575 billion.
  • Exports are down 100 million bu.
  • Feed and residual use is reduced 50 million bu. to 5.65 billion bu., based on indicated disappearance during the September-November quarter.
  • With supply decreasing more than use, corn stocks are lowered 150 million bu. to 1.552 billion.
  • The season-average corn price received by producers is raised to $4.20 bu.
  • Global coarse grain production for 2020/2021 is forecast down 9.3 million tons to 1,438.5 million.
  • Foreign corn production is reduced with declines for Argentina and Brazil offsetting increases for China and India.
    • Dryness during December in Argentina has reduced yield prospects for early-planted corn in key central growing areas.
    • Brazil is lowered reflecting reduced yield expectations for first-crop corn in southern Brazil.


January WASDE cattle and poultry report


  • The 2020 total red meat and poultry production estimate is reduced from last month.
    • Beef production estimate is reduced on lower cattle slaughter.
  • For 2021, the total red meat and poultry production forecast is lowered from the previous month as lower expected beef, broiler and turkey production more than offsets higher pork production.
  • Lower expected placements in 2020 will impact fed cattle supplies come mid-2021.
  • Cattle carcass weights are forecast lighter for 2021.
  • The beef import estimate for 2020 is reduced on recent trade data, and the 2021 import forecast is reduced mostly due to lower expected imports from Australia.
  • Beef exports for 2020 and 2021 are increased from last month.
  • Cattle prices in 2021 are expected to increase on a lower production forecast.


Small Business Administration gearing up new PPP loans


  • As of Monday, January 11, farmers, livestock producers and other small business owners could start applying for the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) new Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) if they are working with smaller financial institutions.
  • When SBA originally opened PPP for loans, companies connected to larger banks snatched up the majority of those funds.
  • This new program has been adjusted by Congress and SBA to allow smaller, underserved businesses a better chance at receiving the loans.
  • Last Friday, SBA announced that $15 billion has been set aside for new PPP applications coming from small “community financial institutions.”
    • These financial institutions must be banks or credit unions with under $1 billion in assets.
      • Repeat PPP borrowers can start reapplying today, January 13.
    • Businesses, farmers and livestock producers can apply through their lenders for this new PPP program.
    • To be eligible, farms and other businesses must employ 500 or fewer people.
    • The 1 percent interest loans, which can be forgiven, can be as much as 2.5 times a company’s average monthly payroll costs – up to $10 million.
    • The loan period can run from eight to 24 weeks and has some flexibility built in for farmers that hire seasonal help.
    • Farms or livestock operations must have a maximum net worth of $15 million or less to be able to qualify for PPP loans and their average net income after federal income taxes for the past two years cannot be more than $5 million – excluding any carryover losses.
    • Last year, about 150,000 businesses in agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting received $8.1 billion in PPP loans.
      • This accounted for roughly 1.6 percent of the entire lending under PPP, which ended up reaching $525 billion when it was all said and done.


Boxed beef prices


  • Choice boxed beef: $209.14 (+1.45)
  • Select boxed beef: $198.09 (+2.35)


Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for January 12, 2021

Pilgrim’s Pride to settle civil poultry price-fixing claims


  • Pilgrim’s Pride has agreed to pay $75 million to settle price-fixing claims made against the company by foodservice, institutional and retail poultry buyers.
    • The settlement goes back to litigation filed on January 1, 2008, that claimed poultry processors conspired to fix prices by coordinating production.
  • According to Pilgrim’s Pride, the company does not admit any liability to the broiler antitrust civil litigation, but it does believe a settlement is in the best interest of the company and its shareholders.
    • This settlement in the civil price fixing case does not have any impact on the antitrust price fixing case that was introduced in June 2020.
  • The civil agreement is subject to court approval and the payment will be reflected in Pilgrim’s Pride’s Q4 2020 financial results.
    • If approved by the courts, this settlement will be the largest so far in the battle over alleged collusion among poultry processors.


Brazilian beef exports set record for 2020


  • According to a Brazilian beef industry association, Abrafrigo, Brazilian beef exports increased 8 percent in 2020 to 2.02 million metric tons.
    • Revenue from this increase reached $8.4 billion, up 11 percent from 2019.
  • Abrafrigo expects imports to continue to increase into 2021 by 5 percent in volume.
  • China was the largest importer of Brazilian beef in 2020 with 1.18 million metric tons through the continent and Hong Kong.
    • Second largest importer was Egypt with 127,953 metric tons of Brazilian beef, followed by Chile with 90,403 metric tons.
  • The U.S. also contributed to this record as we imported 59,544 metric tons of Brazilian beef, up 53.8 percent year-over-year, which put us in the top four Brazilian beef importers in 2020.
    • The opening of the U.S. market to Brazil’s fresh beef in February 2020 caused this increase.


Beef processing plant in Pleasant Hope expected to open in upcoming weeks


  • Pleasant Hope, MO will soon be the home to Missouri Prime Beef Packers, a 100,000-square-foot beef processing plant, according to Nextgen Cattle Company.
    • Production is supposed to get underway in late January and the plant will have the capacity to process up to 500 hd./day.
  • Missouri Prime Beef Packers will be located in a facility previously operated by Moon Ridge Foods; a pork processor that called it quits in 2018.
  • According to Nick Paschkov, COO of Missouri Prime Beef Packers, the company focuses on food and employee safety and product quality over volume production.
  • Missouri Prime Beef Packers will provide branded beef programs, something that is vital during a time when people want to know where their foods comes from, said co-owner Stacy Davies.


Taco Bell replaces potatoes with plant-based meat made from oats


  • During this past summer in the UK, Taco Bell announced that it would be cutting potatoes from their menu, a decision that didn’t go over well with vegans or vegetarians since they often swap out beef for fried potatoes.
  • The fast food chain is now trying to cater to plant-forward eaters as they have added plant-based meat options to the menu at Taco Bell locations throughout the UK and Europe.
    • This plant-based meat option will be made out of oats, peas and fava bean protein.
  • There is no word yet as to how soon this trend will find its way to U.S. Taco Bells.


Boxed beef prices


  • Choice boxed beef: $207.69 (+0.89)
  • Select boxed beef: $195.74 (-0.95)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for January 11, 2021

Poll shows Covid-19 is taking a heavy toll on farmers’ mental health


  • Last week, the American Farm Bureau Federation released results from a poll of 2,000 farmers concerning how Covid-19 has affected their mental health.
    • The survey also revealed how the pandemic has affected rural communities.
  • When it comes to rural adults overall, those polled were split; 53 percent say the pandemic has affected their mental health in some way and 44 percent say it has not affected their mental health.
    • Younger rural adults were more likely than older adults to say the pandemic has affected their mental health.
  • Poll results show that the pandemic has affected two in three farmers’ mental health.
  • Since April 2019, the negative affect of social isolation has increased by 22 percent among farmers and farmworkers.


CattleFax; South American crop concerns.

  • S. corn and soybean markets continue to gain strength over concerns of tighter U.S. corn and soybean supplies in the near future. Additionally, South America continues to see dry conditions negatively impacting their crops.
    • Brazil’s corn and soybean crops are experiencing the driest conditions since at least 1989.
  • On Tuesday, USDA will be releasing its monthly supply/demand report, which will consist of updated estimates of U.S. and South American crop production and usage.
    • This report has the potential to tighten the U.S. stocks-to-use for both corn and soybeans.
  • Reduced U.S. stocks-to-use and the lack of crop potential in South America has moved the market to the highest levels since 2014.
  • Continued concerns over dry weather for much of the U.S. into the spring and summer are also playing a big role in the grain markets.


Beef exports spike, pork sets record


  • According to data released by USDA and assembled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation, November was one of the best months on record for beef exports.
    • November U.S. beef exports increased by 6 percent year-over-year, the largest since July 2019.
      • Export value climbed 8 percent year-over-year to $707.5 million.
    • USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom said that demand for U.S. beef in the global retail sector has been outstanding and this trend is expected to continue into 2021.
    • November exports to China and Guatemala set new monthly records, and shipments to Mexico were the largest since 2016.
    • S. pork exports for January through November set new annual records in both volume and value.
      • Volume increased to 2.72 million metric tons, up 14 percent from last year’s export pace, and value increased by 13 percent to $7.03 billion.


2020 beef imports


  • The U.S. imported 2.9 billion pounds of beef in 2020, up 12.1 percent from 2019.
  • Top beef imports came from Canada, then Mexico and finally Australia.
    • The U.S. imported beef from 21 different countries in 2020.


Boxed beef prices


  • Choice boxed beef: $206.80 (+0.99)
  • Select boxed beef: $196.69 (+0.10)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for January 8, 2021

U.S. Farmers Union condemns violence at the capitol


  • The National Farmers Union (NFU) is labeling the group that stormed the capitol on Wednesday as insurrectionists and condemning their attempt to undermine democracy.
  • The group’s actions were a disturbing attempt to undermine the will of American voters and the very democracy that guarantees our freedoms and protections, according to the NFU.
  • NFU’s president, Rob Larew, stated that these acts of intimidation and terror have no place in this country and they cannot be condoned or brushed aside.
    • He also stated that this event shows how fragile democracy really is. It doesn’t just exist because it is written in the Constitution; it requires action on the part of every American.


Senator Stabenow to make carbon market top priority


  • Now that the Senate is split 50-50, Senator Debbie Stabenow will most likely chair the agriculture committee once again.
  • One of Senator Stabenow’s top priorities is to establish a carbon market.
    • She’s a sponsor of a bill that accelerates Carbon Credit Trading through the USDA.
  • On Wednesday, Stabenow told reporters in Washington that the exchange would be voluntary, but climate policy for farmers and ranchers is a top priority for her.
    • She did not say if she would be repealing any regulations from the Trump era.


Nebraska official clarifies meat plant worker status for Covid-19 vaccine


  • A spokesman for Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts has reported that meat-processing workers in Nebraska will not need to prove U.S. citizenship to receive the Covid-19 vaccination.
  • On Monday, Ricketts responded to a media question regarding whether or not undocumented meatpacking workers would be able to receive the vaccine.
    • Ricketts stated that undocumented workers are not allowed to work in processing facilities.
      • One media outlet took this response to mean that undocumented workers would not be eligible to receive the vaccine at all, which resulted in concern from advocacy groups, state legislators and other stakeholders.
    • According to the Migration Policy Institute, 66 percent of Nebraska’s estimated 26,600 meatpacking workers are immigrants and many of them are undocumented.
    • Ricketts’ spokesman made it clear that there will be no requirement for Nebraskans to provide proof of U.S. citizenship to receive the vaccine.
      • He closed in saying that as vaccine supplies increase over time, priority will be given to citizens and legal residents ahead of illegal immigrants in Nebraska.


Sausage king Jimmy Dean adds plant-based breakfast patties


  • For the first time in the 52-year history of the Jimmy Dean brand, Tyson Foods is adding breakfast sandwiches with soy-protein patties to its sausage line.
  • Jimmy Dean Plant-Based Patty, Egg & Cheese Croissant Sandwiches will consist of a plant-based patty made of soy protein and egg whites.
    • The patty is then topped with American cheese and eggs, and then sandwiched between a croissant.
      • Each sandwich provides 13 grams of protein.
    • Jimmy Dean’s second plant-based breakfast sandwich will be a patty made up of soy protein, black beans, brown rice, quinoa and egg whites.
      • It will be topped with spinach and egg white frittata and American cheese on a whole wheat English muffin.
        • This sandwich contains about 15 grams of protein.
      • Senior Director of Marketing for Jimmy Dean, Scott Glenn, said it was vital for the company to expand its portfolio to provide people with alternative choices.

Boxed beef prices


  • Choice boxed beef: $205.81 (+0.54)
  • Select boxed beef: $196.59 (+0.51)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for January 7, 2021

Chinese supermarkets, consumers seek domestic meats to cut contamination risks


  • Demand and prices for domestically produced meat in China is continuing to increase as Chinese customers remain concerned with the safety of imported cold-chain products.
  • China’s General Administration of Customs has reported that pork and beef imports in November were 330,000 tons, down roughly 70 percent from July.
    • Beef imports alone fell 23 percent to 170,000 tons.
  • Imported seafood, beef, pork and poultry have repeatedly tested positive for Covid-19 throughout China.
    • This includes imported products from Brazil, Ecuador, Russia and India.
      • As of today, only one positive case was reported from domestic meat products in December.
    • Since port workers are testing positive for the virus, it is becoming more and more difficult and time-consuming for imported products to be unloaded.
      • Before the virus was an issue, unloading usually only took a day; it now can take up to two weeks.
    • Some storage companies have closed their warehouses to imported food in hopes of keeping their workers safe from the virus.
    • According to Yang Meng, owner of a large seafood importing company, recent cases of Covid-19 in Beijing is causing intense concern among people when it comes to imported cold-chain products.
      • Two weeks ago, some big supermarket chains in Beijing began turning away imported products.
    • The demand for domestic meat is greatly benefitting domestic meat producers.
      • The average price for domestic lamb now exceeds lamb imported from New Zealand by 10 percent.
        • The price has increased 30 Yuan ($4.60) nationwide year-over-year.


China’s Dicos adds plant-based egg from U.S. firm Eat Just to fast food menus


  • Dicos, one of China’s largest fast food chains, has added a plant-based egg product supplied by U.S. startup Eat Just Inc., based out of San Francisco, CA.
    • This fake egg product will now be available at more than 500 Dicos across China.
  • Dicos’ conventional egg patty that was used in their breakfast burgers and bagels will now be replaced with a fake egg alternative made from mung beans.
  • Vegetarian alternatives to meat are quickly gaining popularity in China.
    • Euromonitor International, a market research provider, forecasts China’s meat substitutes market will be worth $12.3 billion by 2025, a sharp increase from $10.8 billion in 2020.
  • Dicos is excited about this new, innovative food that will help support sustainable development for humanity in the future.


Impossible Foods cuts wholesale prices by 15 percent for second time in one year


  • On Wednesday, Impossible Foods Inc. reported that they would be cutting prices for foodservice distributors in the U.S. by roughly 15 percent due to increasing demand for its burgers.
    • This is the second cut that the company has done in the last year and they are asking distributors to pass on the savings to restaurants and consumers.
  • This price cut brings the cost for the Impossible Burger to $6.80/lb., much higher than conventional ground beef ranging from $2.00 to $3.00/lb., according to the USDA.
  • Impossible Foods will also be lowering prices on varying cuts for distributors in Canada, Singapore, Hong Kong and Macau.
  • The company reported that its production has increased six-fold since 2019.


Boxed beef prices


  • Choice boxed beef: $205.27 (-0.63)
  • Select boxed beef: $196.08 (-0.41)


Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for January 6, 2021

Slave labor at Brazilian cattle farms focus of new report


  • According to Reporter Brasil, an independent research group focused on environmental and labor issues, more than a dozen cases have been identified where JBS SA, Minerva SA and four smaller producers slaughtered cattle that most likely came from farms flagged for extreme worker abuses in recent years throughout Brazil.
  • JBS made these purchases before the offender farms were added to the so-called Dirty List, a rolling government database the company checks daily to make sure it’s not running afoul of labor commitments.
  • Minerva ended up with cattle from these farms as they hopped from farm to farm, making the animals difficult to track.
  • This situation adds to the growing pressure from investors and consumers that are demanding a more sustainable supply chain in the beef industry.
    • It also contributes to the accusations that Brazil’s budget-strapped regulators may not be doing the best job keeping tabs on a sprawling network of ranches that are among the main culprits of deforestation.
  • The majority of cattle in Brazil are grass-fed and rogue ranchers in the nation are famous for using fire and axe to clear pastureland in the Amazon rainforest and Brazil’s Cerrado savanna.
  • In the past, slave labor in Brazil’s livestock industry has been tied to burning of land rather than cattle production.
  • When federal inspectors searched the properties of the farms accused of slave labor, they found some workers living in shacks made of tree branches, without access to toilets, kitchens or clean water for drinking and bathing, according to Reporter Brasil.
  • JBS stated that the company “strictly complies” with all its commitments to fight slave labor and deforestation by monitoring direct suppliers.
  • Minerva denied doing business directly with the ranchers recently accused of slave labor.
    • The company said that they don’t have enough legally available government data to find any irregularities related to the direct supplier.
  • JBS, Marfrig and Minerva are able to monitor their direct suppliers of cattle, but they claim there is no way to accurately track who those farms buy their cattle from.


Faster line speeds at chicken plants criticized


  • According to the Washington Post, the Trump administration is hurrying to finalize a rule that would make faster line speeds at poultry plants permanent.
  • In 2020, Trump approved 15 poultry plants to increase slaughter line speeds during the pandemic, a move that made it more difficult for workers to maintain space between each other.
    • Critics assert that this has increased the spread of Covid-19.
  • If the Trump administration is able to finalize this rule, it will allow faster line speeds at other poultry plants, a move that goes against president-elect Joe Biden’s views.
  • “Whether it’s cattle, whether it’s beef, whether it’s pigs, whether it’s chickens, they’re moving down that line faster and faster to increase profit rate,” stated Biden last year.
    • He believes that the process needs to be slowed to ensure worker safety.
  • The Washington Post reported that since 2018, the Trump administration has issued- or reissued- temporary waivers that grant permission to 54 poultry plants to increase line speeds.
    • These plants were able to go from 140 to 175 birds per minute, a 25 percent increase.
      • These plants are also 10 times more likely to have coronavirus cases in their facilities.
    • According to the USDA, a “direct link” between line speeds and the prevalence of coronavirus cases has not been established.


Boxed beef prices


  • Choice boxed beef: $205.90 (-3.97)
  • Select boxed beef: $196.49 (-0.04)

Current Cattle Markets Daily Headlines for January 5, 2021

Brazil’s beef industry association forecasts exports up 6 percent in 2021


  • According to Brazil’s beef industry association Abiec, Brazilian beef exports are expected to reach 2.14 million metric tons in 2021, up 6 percent from 2.02 million metric tons in 2020.
  • Revenue from 2021 beef exports should reach $8.79 billion, up 3 percent from $8.53 billion in 2020.
  • Antonio Camardelli, president of Abiec, stated that these estimates for 2021 are conservative and considers lower export prices.
    • Abeic forecasts the average export price for Brazilian beef in 2021 to be $4,104/metric ton, down from $4,224/metric ton in 2020.
      • This price decline takes into account for the foreign exchange rate and the issues that countries are still facing with Covid-19.
    • Abeic expects Brazilian beef exports to expand in countries they already serve and to also break into new markets.
    • Currently, 26 Brazilian beef processing plants are waiting to receive authorization to export to China, Brazil’s largest beef importer.
      • Brazil already has 35 beef processing units that are permitted to export to China.
    • The country is also negotiating to export fresh beef to Japan, Mexico, South Korea and Canada.
      • These markets combined have the potential to import approximately 260,000 metric tons of Brazilian beef per year, equating to $1.5 billion in revenue for exporters.


Livestock comments by Dr. Andrew Griffith


  • The finished cattle market is influenced by many factors.
    • One factor that needs to be considered is the number of cattle being shipped to Mexico.
  • Since the first week of July 2020, over 10,000 hd. of beef cattle for slaughter have been shipped to Mexico.
    • This compares to only 134 hd. being shipped to Mexico during the first ten months of 2019.
  • These numbers seen in 2020 are some of the highest volumes of cattle shipped to Mexico for slaughter since the early 2000s.
  • Nationally speaking, the export of these cattle does not do a lot to influence the market, however it greatly impacts cattle feeders in South Texas where Brahman and Brahman influenced cattle are mainstays.
    • Mexico has provided another outlet for these ear cattle that will not grade Choice or higher which adds value to those cattle.


Unexpected volatility returns


  • 2021 cattle markets off to an unstable and violent start as equities and multiple commodities sold off sharply yesterday.
    • By noon yesterday, cattle futures traded over 300 points lower.
      • This volatility may have been caused by today’s run-off election in Georgia or some unquantifiable reason.
    • Last Thursday, December live cattle expired higher than any other spot live cattle contract in 2020.
    • As of yesterday, February live cattle traded the lowest for its own contract month since December 2010 at $111.50.
    • Immediate fundamentals were most likely not related to Monday’s sell off as cutout values trended higher and are expected to increase as the week goes on.


Boxed beef prices


  • Choice boxed beef: $209.87 (-0.08)
  • Select boxed beef: $196.53 (+0.88)


Current Cattle Markets Daily Headlines for January 4, 2021

The meat industry rails against new dietary guidelines for only mentioning ‘beef’ 5 times as the U.S. promotes plant-based protein


  • Some agriculture advocacy groups have come forward saying that the new Dietary Guidelines are relying on outdated science, which unfairly classifies meat as an unhealthy food group.
  • The guidelines recommend eating less red meat and processed meat overall.
    • Two of the three examples of healthy living patterns included in the guidelines emphasize plant-based foods or seafood as protein sources.
  • Agriculture advocacy groups claim that there is new research showing healthy diets can include significant amounts of red meat and/or saturated fat.
  • Following the release of the guidelines, U.S. Cattlemen’s Association tweeted that the 163-page guidelines only mention the word “beef” five times.
  • The cattle industry group believes that the outdated science that the guidelines are based on may not provide correct information.
    • Lia Biondo with U.S. Cattlemen’s Association said that her association has been concerned throughout this process that maybe not all of the available science on nutrition is being considered because it is constantly evolving.
      • Biondo closed by saying that emerging dietary patterns need to be considered instead of building on previous guidelines.



Daily Livestock Report


  • Feed costs have been surging over the last three months and the last two weeks have seen those costs skyrocket.
  • March 2021 corn futures closed last Wednesday night at $4.80/bu., the highest nearby contract close since the summer of 2014.
  • March corn futures have gained 13 percent in the last two weeks and are up 43 percent from mid-August.
  • The corn market has gained ground because of orders to China piling up and dry conditions in Argentina and Brazil resulting in a continual downgrade of crop yield potential.
    • The extent of crop losses in South America is yet to be known.


Tyson supplier paid for undelivered cattle


  • Investigations performed with the help of outside advisors has discovered that the misappropriation of company funds has caused Tyson to overstate their live cattle inventory by an estimated $285 million as of their 2020 fiscal year ended Oct. 3, 2020.
  • The error occurred when a cattle supplier made misrepresentations about the number of cattle purchased on behalf of Tyson.
  • Tyson declined to comment on the cattle supplier, but anonymous sources told TSLN that the supplier was Easterday Farms located near Pasco, Washington.
  • As of Dec. 25, 2020, Tyson’s net worth was $23.59 billion, so it comes as no surprise that the company reported that the loss caused by Easterday Farms’ misrepresentations will have no material impact on the company’s financial results from 2017 through 2020.
    • Tyson is currently working with Easterday Farms to recover its losses.
  • According to Easterday Farms’ website, the farm is a family run agricultural operation that is diversified with crops and cattle.
  • Gale and Karen Easterday are the sole owners of Easterday Farms.
  • Gale was extremely involved with all aspects of the farms for more than 40 years until he unexpectedly passed away just days before Tyson released the news concerning the cattle inventory mistake.
    • On Dec. 10, 2020, Gale entered onto I-182 in Pasco, Washington on an exit ramp in the middle of the afternoon and proceeded to drive west in the eastbound lanes.
    • He then hit a semi-head on that was hauling potatoes for Easterday Farms.
    • Gale, who was 79 years of age, was pronounced dead at the scene.


Boxed beef prices


  • Choice boxed beef: $209.95 (-0.58)
  • Select boxed beef: $195.65 (-4.21)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for December 31, 2020

China meat association calls for exporters to disinfect shipments to prevent COVID-19


  • According to the China Meat Association, Chinese meat importers and processors are asking exporters in countries with COVID-19 outbreaks to improve their checks on shipments before they are sent to China.
  • Gao Guan, spokesman for the China Meat Association claims that it would be better to handle virus control at the meats exporting origins and disinfect the product at production plants in order to reduce costs and increase efficiency.
  • A statement published on the association’s official WeChat account stated that they suggest exporters with outbreaks disinfect the outer packaging of products and the inner side of containers before sealing export products to be shipped.
  • This proposal was sparked after some major exporters, such as JBS in Brazil, increased their disinfecting measures to supply China with safe products.
    • China is hoping that increased disinfection will boost consumer confidence in imported cold-chain products.
  • According to the China Meat Association, reported cases of the virus have shown that contact with packaging contaminated with coronavirus can lead to human infection.
  • From the beginning of the pandemic, the World Health Organization has claimed that the risk of contracting COVID-19 from frozen food is low to nonexistent.
    • Chinese officials agree that the risk is low, but there is still a risk.


Beef and dairy take a hit in new USDA Dietary Guidelines


  • The newly released USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs) put an emphasis on lean meats, news that will most likely leave beef producers a bit frustrated and looking to reinforce the positive science behind beef.
  • The DGA’s stated that Americans meet or exceed the recommendation for meat, poultry and eggs.
    • Almost half the time proteins are consumed as a mixed dish such as a sandwich or a burger, something the guidelines discourage due to increased saturated fats and sodium.
  • These guidelines have shone a negative light on red meat, but whether or not that will affect actual consumer demand is yet to be seen.


Dietary guidelines for Americans solidifies the benefits of been and a healthy diet


  • The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association has commended the USDA and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for their newly released 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs).
    • The organization said on Tuesday that these guidelines acknowledge the importance of lean beef in a healthy diet.
  • Marty Smith, NCBA’s president, said that the guidelines offer realistic advice to help create balanced diets.
  • Smith closed by saying that U.S. cattle producers appreciate the work of the committee, USDA and HHS for putting together a set of guidelines that will benefit all Americans.


Boxed beef prices


  • Choice boxed beef: $210.53 (+0.23)
  • Select boxed beef: $199.86 (+4.38)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for December 30, 2020

Fired Tyson boss says COVID-19 office pool was a ‘morale boost’


  • Tyson Foods fired seven plant managers on Dec. 16 for betting on how many workers would get sick with COVID-19 at their Waterloo, Iowa pork processing plant.
  • One of those managers is now coming forward claiming that the office pool was spontaneous fun and intended to boost morale.
  • Don Merschbrock, a former night manager at the plant said he is speaking out in hopes of letting the public know that the seven fired supervisors are not the evil people that Tyson portrayed them to be.
    • Merschbrock stated that the managers would like their names cleared because they worked incredibly hard and took care of their team members.
  • An investigation led by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder found sufficient evidence to terminate those involved in the betting ring, according to Tyson.
  • Tyson did not release Holder’s findings in the investigation and the fired managers assert that they were let go without any explanation.
  • According to Merschbrock, managers were given the impossible task of maintaining production while also implementing virus safety protocols.
    • After working 12-hour days for six or seven days a week, the managers were tired, he said.
  • The office betting pool consisted of approximately $50 cash, which went to the manager who picked the correct percentage of workers testing positive for the virus.
    • Those who participated in the pool didn’t think their actions violated company policy.
      • The pool was conducted within minutes following the mass testing of the plant’s 2,800 workers last spring.
    • The exhausted supervisors that had worked so smart to solve so many unsolvable problems were just taking part in a fun activity, said Merschbrock.
      • The group never meant to disparage anyone.
    • An attorney representing families of deceased employees, Mel Orchard, said that protecting the plant workers from the virus was not an unsolvable problem.
      • He went on to say that the issue was a corporate culture where executives focused on production and sales and treated line workers as dispensable items.


Government’s new dietary guidelines suggest seafood over hot dogs


  • On Tuesday, the government’s 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans were released with the theme “Make Every Bite Count.”
    • According to the guidelines, those bites should include more lean meat and fewer foods that contain animal protein that come in the form of a burger or a sandwich.
  • Sixty percent of American adults have one or more diet-related chronic diseases, according to a video outlining the new guidelines.
    • To counteract this, the guidelines offer a framework that puts emphasis on nutrient dense foods that provide vitamins, minerals and other health promoting components with little to no added sugar, fat or sodium.
  • The guidelines reiterate that Americans usually consume way too many saturated fats, sodium and added sugars, all the while not eating enough fruits, vegetable and whole grains.
  • The guidelines state that Americans meet or exceed the recommendation for meats, poultry and eggs, but almost 90% of Americans do not consume the recommended amount of seafood and almost half of the population doesn’t eat the recommended amount of nuts, seeds and soy products.
  • Forty-three percent of all proteins are consumed as a separate item, such as a steak, an egg or a fish filet.
    • Forty-eight percent of proteins consumed by Americans involve a mixed dish; the biggest amount coming in the form of a sandwich, such as a burger or a taco.
      • These mixed dishes often contain other ingredients that are not nutrient-dense and are often high in saturated fats and sodium.
    • The guidelines recommend replacing high-fat meats like hot dogs and bacon with seafood to help Americans eat less saturated fat and sodium.
      • They also advocate for replacing processed meats with beans, peas and lentils.


Boxed beef prices


  • Choice boxed beef: $210.30 (+2.48)
  • Select boxed beef: $195.48 (-1.17)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for December 29, 2020

President Trump signs omnibus spending, Covid-19 relief bill


  • On Sunday night, President Trump signed the bill that funds the government and will provide a third round of coronavirus relief payments.
  • The bill includes a billion dollars to compensate farmers and ranchers who were forced to depopulate their livestock because of the pandemic.
    • Losses will be paid up to 80 percent of an animal’s value.
  • Row crop farmers will receive $20/acre for the same qualifying crops as the last round of CFAP-2.
  • According to the American Farm Bureau, this new aid will amount to almost $1.8 billion for corn, $1.7 billion for soybeans and approximately $866 million for wheat.
  • Through this new bill the USDA will be able to extend the term of marketing loans by three months, it will provide aid for biofuel producers who have been affected by market losses and it will also extend the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
    • PPP funding can now be used to cover Covid-19 costs and expenses paid with PPP money are tax deductible.
  • Dairy producers will benefit from the bill as almost a billion dollars has been set aside for a dairy donation program and supplemental Dairy Margin Coverage payments.
    • Additionally, $22 million will be available to support dairy business innovation initiatives.
  • The price tag for this bill is $1.4 trillion for the fiscal year 2021, including $900 billion for coronavirus relief.


NCBA’s ‘price discovery’ plan takes effect January 1; packer participation still a work in progress


  • NCBA’s voluntary plan to increase price discovery in the cattle industry takes effect on January 1st.
    • This voluntary “75 percent plan” focuses on benchmarks for negotiated cash trade and packer participation.
      • The plan contains triggers that must be met, or the organization plans to pursue a legislative or regulatory solution to achieve robust price discovery.
    • According to NCBA’s Ethan Lane, the packer participation portion in the plan is still a work in progress.
    • NCBA has been appreciative of the packers listening to what the organization has to say and they believe that the packers know that they need a play a role in their plan.
    • Lane stated that the biggest hurdle is the confidentiality rule that USDA must adhere to, as far as what they can release.
      • He said that the organization is working with the packers to find a sweet spot where they can get the information they need and also communicate out what they think is needed as far as participation in those different regions to have robust, negotiated trade.
    • Lane believes that the packers recognize the frustration in the industry and would like to figure something out. Packers and producers are in the supply chain together, but everyone is looking out for their own business in a deal like this. Regardless, Lane thinks that everybody is currently working toward the common good for our industry.


Boxed beef prices


  • Choice boxed beef: $207.82 (+0.28)
  • Select boxed beef: $196.65 (-1.28)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for December 28, 2020

Where are half-million calves hiding?


  • The December 1 Cattle on Feed report came and went without any surprises or market shakeups, but when you start to dig a bit deeper into these numbers, you find that they don’t line up.
  • The seasonal feeder cattle marketing surge during October and November didn’t happen, and cattle placements during those months ranked as the fourth lowest of the last five years.
    • Despite July and September placements being above previous years’ placement levels, the market is still exceptionally short compared to past years’ feedlot placements.
      • On average, 2020 cattle placements in 1,000 hd. feedlots and larger fell 719,000 hd. below the previous three years.
    • The cowherd has been experiencing a contraction for the past couple years and that led to 2020’s annual calf crop being short 250,000 hd. Even with this smaller calf crop, there is still 500,000 hd. of calves unaccounted for when trying to balance yearly feeder cattle placement numbers.
    • A potential explanation for these reduced placement numbers is a significant increase in heifers being retained in the beef cowherd.
      • The status of the market, the fact that the nation’s beef herd is expected to continue contracting over the next year, increased feed costs and drought spreading through many large cattle producing regions makes this explanation highly unlikely.
    • Another option is that these calves may be placed in feedlots under a 1,000 hd. threshold, which would mean that they aren’t counted by the Cattle on Feed report.
    • The final explanation is that these calves weren’t ever sold and were instead held over on grass or wheat through the early winter months.
      • If this is the case, look for an increase in placements in the January, February and March reports.


Thune, Merkley, Collins and King introduce bipartisan legislation to support America’s small food processors


  • Last week, Senator John Thune (R-SD) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) introduced the Strengthening Local Processing Act.
    • Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Angus King (I-Maine) are both original co-sponsors of this bill.
  • This bipartisan legislation is meant to provide federal support to America’s small meat and poultry processors and strengthen and streamline their operations.
    • The bill will give small food processors more access to information that is important for food safety planning and it will allow more inspector-approved meat products to be sold across state lines. Additionally, it will funnel federal dollars toward training, education, and technical assistance grants.
  • This legislation would require the Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) to establish a searchable database of peer-reviewed, publicly available studies to establish and maintain Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) plans.
  • This legislation would increase the federal government’s cost-share of meat and poultry inspection programs, which is needed for small food processors to approve their products, from 50 percent to 65 percent.
    • Furthermore, it would allow state-inspected meat facilities to operate as federal inspection facilities, allowing more small and local processors to ship their products to other states and internationally.
  • This legislation would create a grant program to support small plants by providing reimbursement grants.
    • These grants would help cover costs associated with meeting state or federal inspection guidelines, expanding infrastructure to establish or increase harvest and processing capacity and adapting to the Covid-19 pandemic and future market needs.
  • Finally, the bill would establish training grants to support and train small plant operators, small plant employees and the next generation of meat processors and butchers.
    • It would also provide $10 million to be authorized in discretionary funding for higher education training and processor career training.


Boxed beef prices


  • Choice boxed beef: $207.54 (-3.13)
  • Select boxed beef: $197.93 (-1.66)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for December 24, 2020

CattleFax; 2021 Cattle Market Outlook

  • Even though the U.S. cowherd is going into its third year of contraction, the effects of COVID-19 will keep cattle prices subdued as we head into 2021.
    • One major effect from the virus is the abundant supply of fed cattle that will hit the market in first few months of 2021 because of the backlog of feeder cattle that was created in the second quarter of 2020.
  • If all goes as planned, the second half of 2021 should see a significant price improvement with cattle supplies becoming more manageable and pandemic disruptions coming to an end, which will greatly benefit the restaurant industry.
  • Another highlight heading into the next year is that consumer beef demand is expected to be at its third-highest level since 1998.
  • The USDA All-Fresh Retail Beef Price averaged $6.35/lb. this year. Retail beef prices in 2021 are expected to decline $0.35/lb., but this will still be the third highest annual average on record.
  • Beef proved to still be king in 2020 as retail beef sales represented 46 percent of total red meat and poultry spending, up one percent from the year before.
  • The biggest concern regarding beef demand in 2021 is unemployment and decreased disposable income levels as COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc.
  • Global beef buyers are expected to remain aggressive in 2021 with a 5 percent growth in beef exports projected next year.
  • As expected, packers will continue to keep their thumb on cattle feeders in 2021; however, market power could shift significantly in the later part of the year.
    • Fed cattle slaughter is expected to fall below year-ago levels in the third quarter of this coming year.
    • The 2021 fed cattle market is expected to average $115/cwt. and trade in a range somewhere between $105 and $125.
      • With shrinking cattle supplies, cattle feeders should regain some leverage in the fall.
    • The U.S. 800 lb. steer price will average around $145/cwt., with a potential to reach $160. There is a chance that the feeder and calf market will get a boost from fed cattle values that are expected to be approximately $70/hd. higher.
      • With that being said, increased feed costs may restrict feeder cattle and calf market upside.
    • The forecast for U.S. bred cow prices is $50/hd. higher in 2021 with an average of $1,600.
    • Cull cow prices are also expected to improve in 2021, averaging $64/cwt.
      • Imports are expected to decline, which will favor stronger slaughter cow values.
    • Overall, Covid-19 difficulties will continue on in 2021, but tighter cattle supplies will increase leverage for cattle producers, and result in increased market prices.


Maria Bartiromo duped into on-air interview with animal rights activist posing as CEO or Smithfield Foods


  • On Wednesday, Fox Business anchor Maria Bartiromo thought she was interviewing the CEO of Smithfield Foods Inc., Dennis Organ, but little did she know she was actually interviewing an animal rights activist posing as Mr. Organ.
    • The animal rights activist, Matt Johnson, belongs to Direct Action Everywhere, a grassroots animal rights group.
  • The segment focused on providing vaccines to Smithfield’s workers amid an outbreak of coronavirus cases at one of the company’s plants.
  • During the interview Johnson stated that the meatpacking industry poses a serious threat in effectively bringing on the next pandemic, with CDC data showing that three of four infectious diseases come from animals.
    • He went on to say that the conditions inside Smithfield’s farms are Petri dishes for new diseases.
  • Bartiromo was a bit skeptical as the interview went on, even rolling her eyes at one point.
  • By the end of the show, Bartiromo reported that Fox had been duped and she apologized for the confusion.


Boxed beef prices


  • Choice boxed beef: $207.54 (-3.13)
  • Select boxed beef: $197.93 (-1.66)


Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for December 23, 2020

Tyson reports “misappropriation” of funds be beef supplier


  • On Monday, Tyson Foods filed corrected financial results in its beef segment with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for fiscal years 2017 through 2020.
    • The report filed to the SEC states that Tyson is reporting “misappropriation of company funds” by one of its beef suppliers.
  • With help from outside advisors, an internal review of the supplier’s accounts is taking place.
    • So far, that report has discovered that the supplier made misrepresentations concerning the number of cattle the supplier purchased on behalf of the company’s beef segment.
  • In the report filed with the SEC, Tyson claimed that its live cattle inventory for the fiscal year 2020 was overstated by $285 million.
    • The cumulative four-year inventory was overstated by $645 million.
  • The cattle supplier who made these mistakes represents about 2 percent of the cattle supplied to Tyson between the years of 2017 and 2020.
  • Despite these losses, they do not have a material impact on Tyson’s financial results for 2017-2020.
  • Through its investigation of the situation, Tyson found no evidence that the company benefitted from the supplier’s unlawful conduct or that anyone at the company tried to alter financial statements to hide the transactions resulting from the supplier’s unlawful acts.
  • Even though Tyson has corrected multiple financial statements, the company’s general trends in growth and operating profit metrics will remain the same, operating cash flow will be mostly unaffected, liquidity won’t change and the company will remain in compliance with all debt agreements.
  • Tyson plans to pursue restitution for losses to date.


CattleFax; Building from the Covid-19 lows.

  • Both 2019 and 2020 saw U.S. beef exports decline.
    • Larger global beef production hurt 2019 sales and 2020 was impacted by Covid-19 supply disruptions limiting export sales.
  • According to CattleFax, beef exports could grow by 5 percent or more in 2021, and then continue to see moderate growth over the next several years.
  • Japan and South Korea are the two largest global markets for U.S. beef, and both are expected to grow in 2021.
    • S. trade agreements with these countries are allowing U.S. beef exports to be more price competitive.
    • Additionally, Australian beef production is experiencing a 14 percent decline from the high in 2019, which has created new opportunities for U.S. beef producers.
  • Since the Phase One trade agreement, U.S., beef exports to the Greater China region (China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Vietnam) have increased each month.
    • In 2019, U.S. beef shipments averaged 3 million pounds per month to this region. Just in October 2020, China received 20 million lbs. of U.S. beef.
  • Exports to Mexico have been a bit lackluster since Mexico cattle producers are expanding their beef cowherds, and growing beef production may constrain U.S. beef demand.
  • Canada is expected to purchase around 300 million lbs. of U.S. beef in 2021, but growth potential will remain limited due to Canadian cattle slaughter being robust.
  • 2020 beef imports were impacted by record-high domestic beef prices in the spring and summer, which led to a 10 percent increase in imports.
    • Imports in 2021 are expected to decline 5 percent.


Boxed beef prices


  • Choice boxed beef: $210.67 (-0.25)
  • Select boxed beef: $199.59 (+2.33)


Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for December 22, 2020

COVID aid package details


  • On Sunday, Congress reached a deal to pass a $900 billion spending bill that will include $5 billion for crop producers, $3 billion for livestock and poultry producers and $225 million for specialty-crop growers who lost their crops in 2019.
    • Additionally, the bill will compensate livestock and poultry producers who were forced to euthanize animals because of the pandemic.
  • The bill will provide $28 million in block grants to states to help farmer and rancher stress management due to the virus.
  • American families will receive $600/person from this bill.
    • To qualify for these checks, married couples must make less than $150,000.
  • Small meat and poultry processors will also receive assistance, as $60 million in grants will be available to make improvements to help processors meet federal food safety inspection standards.
  • The aid package will include $75 million to help underserved farmers and ranchers through the Farming Opportunities Training Outreach program.
    • It will also provide support for minority, veteran, tribal and beginning farmers to access disaster programs.
  • President-elect Joe Biden said that he is happy to see Congress working together on this aid package, but he wants everyone to know that once he takes office there will even be more help on the way.


NCBA secures critical wins for cattle producer in government funding and COVID relief deal and urges swift passage in both chambers


  • According to NCBA, the organization secured vital wins for cattle producers in the latest government funding and COVID-19 relief packages.
  • NCBA Vice President of Government Affairs, Ethan Lane, stated that this package encompasses many of NCBA’s yearlong policy priorities and their efforts to respond to multiple market shocks that producers have dealt with over the last year.
  • Lane also said that the additional cattle assistance through CFAP, agricultural quarantine inspection services and the extension of LMR through September 30th, 2021, has provided ranchers and farmers a tremendous amount of continuity and certainty going forward.


Methane emissions reduced by novel feed ingredient


  • A two-year beef cattle trial in Alberta, Canada has proven that a novel feed ingredient can be included in commercial feedlot diets to reduce methane emissions by up to 80 percent.
  • Royal DSM, a global science-based company active in health, nutrition and sustainable living, produced the ingredient, scientifically called 3-NOP.
  • This trial is the largest and longest trial for methane reduction in beef to date with 15,000 head of cattle.
    • Just with this trial, Greenhouse Gas emissions have been reduced by 1,473 metric tons, which is comparable to taking 500 cars off the road for one year.
  • According to Royal DSM, when the ingredient is fed, enteric methane formation in ruminants decreases by over 30 percent on average.
    • Additionally, this ingredient does not have a negative impact on animal health, performance or carcass characteristics.
  • Research has proven that the ingredient has real, permanent and quantifiable reductions of methane emissions not only across Alberta’s beef and dairy sector, but also in feedlots around the world.


Nebraska Cattle Group’s top issues include property taxes and brands


  • During Nebraska Cattlemen’s recent virtual convention, the organization decided that heading into 2021 they would focus on reducing property taxes and modernizing the state brand rule.
  • According to the organization’s new president, Bill Rhea, Nebraska Cattlemen has members working on NCBA’s working task force analyzing the current cattle market situation.
    • These members are working on price discovery and they are just finishing up their work, stated Rhea.
      • NC would like any measure regarding price discovery to be voluntary instead of government mandated.
    • Bill Rhea believes that beef marketing will be tough for the first sixty to ninety days of the new year, but NC filed their letters with the DOJ a year ago and they continue to look at stuff and hope the markets are fair for everybody.


Boxed beef prices


  • Choice boxed beef: $210.92 (+2.29)
  • Select boxed beef: $197.26 (+2.99)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for December 21, 2020

Cattle president concerned with push for a beef checkoff referendum


  • Eric Jennings, President of the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association, is concerned with the push for a referendum vote on the beef checkoff.
  • In an interview with WNAX radio out of Yankton, SD, Jennings said that the checkoff is needed to deal with attacks on the cattle industry from fake meat competitors, anti-animal agriculture activists and others trying to harm the industry.
    • Additionally, he believes the program is needed to promote new beef products.
  • Jennings closed by saying that the beef checkoff has been a very successful program through the years and producers need to remember that it hasn’t had a price increase during that time. That one dollar per head checkoff doesn’t have near the buying power that it did when the program first began thirty years ago, but the checkoff has still done a great job of using those funds to promote and research the beef industry for cattle producers.


Tyson Foods fires seven plant managers over betting ring on workers getting Covid-19


  • Tyson Foods, one of the country’s largest meat suppliers, has fired seven managers at its plant in Waterloo, IA after investigating allegations that they bet on how many plant workers would get infected with coronavirus.
  • According to Tyson Foods President and CEO Dean Banks, the actions of these individuals do not represent Tyson’s core values and that is why immediate action was taken.
  • The plant employs 2,800 workers, mostly immigrants and refugees.
    • More than 1,000 of these workers have been infected with the virus and six have died because of it.
  • Tyson had employees move between a different plant in Iowa where an outbreak was occurring and the Waterloo plant, according to the lawsuit filed by the family of Isidro Fernandez, who died in April.
    • Tyson did not provide adequate testing or quarantine the employees before they entered the Waterloo facility.
  • While the virus was spreading throughout the Waterloo plant, Tyson was offering $500 “thank you bonuses” to employees who showed up for every scheduled shift for three months.
    • Plaintiffs argue that this incentivized sick workers to continue working.
      • A Tyson spokesman did not confirm if these incentives were actually offered. The spokesman also chose not to respond directly to other allegations from the pending litigation.


Ethanol industry needs support as Covid-19 losses near $4 billion; https://krvn.com/agricultural/rfa-ethanol-industry-needs-support-as-covid-19-losses-near-4-billion/?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

  • A second wave of Covid-19 cases has caused state and local governments to limit travel and promote social distancing.
  • As a result, consumption of ethanol-blended gasoline is quickly declining, according to the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA.)
  • Since the start of the pandemic, through November, ethanol producers had already lost $3.8 billion dollars.
  • Between March and November, producers cut production by two billion gallons in response to reduced travel and lower fuel demand.
  • According to the Energy Information Administration, during the first week of December, consumption of both gasoline and ethanol fell to their lowest points since May.


November cattle on feed report


  • Cattle on feed as of December 1st were reported at 12.036 million hd., which is 5,000 hd. more than December 1st, 2019.
  • Placements in feedlots during November totaled 1.91 million hd., a decline of 9 percent from 2019.
  • Marketings of fed cattle during November totaled 1.78 million hd., down 2 percent compared to the same month in 2019.


Boxed beef prices


  • Choice boxed beef: $208.63 (-0.88)
  • Select boxed beef: $194.27 (+0.57)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for December 18, 2020

Biden to pick Representative Haaland as interior secretary


  • Yesterday, President-elect Joe Biden chose Representative Deb Haaland of New Mexico, a member of the Laguna Pueblo tribe, to serve as the first Native American Cabinet secretary and head the Interior Department.
    • For weeks now, tribal leaders and activists around the country, along with many Democratic figures, have been urging Biden to pick Haaland.
  • With Haaland’s nomination, Indigenous people will for the first time in their lifetimes see a Native American at the table where some of the highest decisions are made.
  • In this role, Haaland will oversee roughly one-fifth of the land in the United States.
  • Haaland comes from New Mexico, a state that is well known for their production of oil and gas. Despite this fact, Haaland plans to transform the Interior Department from a champion of fossil fuel development into a promoter of renewable energy and policies to mitigate climate change.
  • Haaland’s ideas go hand-in-hand with Biden’s, as he would like to halt all new oil and gas drilling on public lands and waters.
  • The Interior Department also oversees massive protected areas; approximately 109 million acres of wilderness, 422 national park sites, national monuments and wildlife refuges. Furthermore, the department protects 1,000 endangered species.
  • Haaland’s appointment will influence 1.9 million Native Americans whose education and health care are impacted by the department’s decisions.


Beef packer margins decline 33 percent


  • Packers experienced a 33 percent drop in profit margins last week. Even with that significant drop, they are still making profits of $332/hd., according to the Sterling Beef Profit Tracker.
    • The week before they were making a hefty $490/hd.
    • Packer margins slipped due to a $20/cwt. decline in the beef cutout, which averaged $217.90.
  • Cattle feeding margins took a big hit with a drop of 90 percent from $108/hd. two weeks ago to just $10/hd. last week.
    • Cattle feeders are less than thrilled with this decline as fundamentals show that the market should be much better than the prices they are receiving.
  • Last week, cash cattle prices declined about $3.50/cwt. to an average of $106. On top of that, feed costs are $15/hd. higher and feeder steer prices are averaging $30/hd. higher, all contributing to reduced profit margins.
    • Cash cattle prices were about $13/cwt. lower than the same week in 2019.
    • A year ago, cattle feeders were making a profit of $68/hd.


Cargill to close Canadian beef plant after coronavirus outbreak


  • As of yesterday, December 17th, Cargill Inc. temporarily closed its Guelph, Ontario beef processing plant due to a Covid-19 outbreak among workers.
    • The plant employs 950 people.
      • Eighty-two workers have tested positive and 129 other workers are quarantining. The workers will continue to be paid during their absence.
    • Cargill’s Guelph, Ontario plant processes 1,500 head of cattle per day.
    • The company, who voluntarily closed its doors, doesn’t have a set date for reopening.
    • Beef Farmers of Ontario have asked Canadian and Ontario governments to activate a program that helps with the costs of feeding cattle longer when slaughter capacity is not available.


South Dakota creates grant program for small processors


  • In a speech at the capital in Pierre, SD, Governor Kristi Noem announced that a new $5 million grant program will be available to small processors that provide services to South Dakota-based producers.
    • This program is aimed at boosting the state’s capacity to produce meat products originating in the state.
  • Grant money can be used to pay for facility improvements, acquiring new equipment or other upgrades.
  • Noem also reported that South Dakota officials are working with USDA to offer the state’s farmers and ranchers the opportunity to sell their products across state lines.


Boxed beef prices


  • Choice boxed beef: $209.51 (+2.29)
  • Select boxed beef: $193.70 (+1.61)


Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for December 17, 2020

R-CALF completes first-ever cattle producers’ long-range plan


  • The Board of Directors of R-CALF USA has spent the last several weeks developing the first ever long-range plan for cattle producers- the Cattle Industry Long Range Plan.
    • The plan was developed as a response to 2020’s unprecedented abnormalities in the U.S. cattle market, and the lack of responsiveness from either policymakers or the beef industry to take corrective actions.
  • The Cattle Industry Long Range Plan is a five-year roadmap for U.S. cattle producers, which allow producers to measure their industry’s success as the plan unfolds.
  • The plan provides strategies that promote profitability and prosperity for family-owned and family-operated cattle operations. It also promotes profitability in America’s rural communities.
    • Additionally, it focuses on preserving cattle producers’ freedoms and liberties by ensuring they remain free to make their own production and marketing decisions.
  • The Cattle Industry Long Range Plan is quite different than the beef packers “Beef Industry Long Range Plan” that was released earlier this year.
    • The Beef Industry Long Range Plan was paid for by cattle producers’ beef checkoff dollars and it attempts to force U.S. cattle producers into compliance with the beef packer’s plan to control cattle producers through strategies that increase production costs.
  • According to Region 3 Director, Brett Kenzy, it has become apparent that no one outside of the cattle industry will be stepping in to fix our depressed cattle markets. That is why R-CALF has stepped up to develop a realistic plan to create a more profitable future for independent U.S. cattle producers.


Chairman Roberts receives NCBA’s Capitol Hill Top Hand Award


  • On Tuesday, NCBA presented U.S. Senator and Chairman of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, Pat Roberts (R-KS) with the Capitol Hill Top Hand Award.
    • This award recognizes his long career of fighting for cattle producers and rural communities throughout this time as a senator.
  • According to NCBA President Marty Smith, Chairman Roberts is a pillar in the cattle industry and there is no one more deserving of the award. Throughout his career, he helped cattle producers in every way possible, stated Smith.


Cattle on feed pre-report


  • Cattle on Feed pre-report estimates were released this week and analysts are expecting tighter supplies ahead in the April-May timeframe.
  • The average analyst estimate indicated placements are down in November, with the average coming in right around 170,000 hd. below 2019.
  • Marketings in November are expected to decline compared to last year.
    • November had the same number of slaughter days, but marketed animals are expected to be just 97.9 percent of a year ago.
  • As of last year, daily average marketings were over 90,000 hd. per day. The average pre-report estimates expect daily average marketings to fall to 76,000 hd. per day.
  • Placements in November are expected to be 91.8 percent of year-ago levels.
    • Driving factors behind lower placements are lower feeder imports from Mexico. Canada’s feeder imports did increase, but not enough to offset declines from Mexico.
    • Additionally, weekly feeder cattle auction receipts also showed declines in November.
      • Volumes dropped by about 80,000 hd. from last year
    • Early December volumes indicate feeder cattle sales activity has picked up across all channels.
  • Overall, analyst’s projections show that cattle on feed have worked back down to year-ago levels; this would suggest that feedlots are mostly current.
    • Over the past couple of weeks, dressed weights peaked, confirming feedlots being current.
    • With that being said, good cattle feeding performance has kept dressed weights above 2019 levels.
      • Last week, steer dressed weights came in at 921 lbs., 10 lbs. higher than last year.


Boxed beef prices


  • Choice boxed beef: $207.33 (-1.60)
  • Select boxed beef: $192.09 (-0.11)



Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for December 16, 2020

How the pandemic altered global beef consumption patterns


  • According to Rabobank’s Beef Quarterly Q4 report, Covid-19 has disrupted beef eating patterns around the world.
  • Despite a 20 to 30 percent reduction in casual and fine dining sales, U.S. beef demand has been excellent.
    • Grilling and outdoor dining supported consumption through the summer. Additionally, consumers have more disposable money to spend on beef since they are spending less on travel.
  • Even though China has been experiencing softer pork and poultry prices, demand for beef has remained strong. Also, the country is almost back to near-normal food service sales, which has also helped beef demand.
    • In the first nine months of 2020, Chinese beef imports reached 1.57 million metric tons, up 39 percent from the same period a year ago.
  • Brazil has dealt with weak economic conditions, abnormally strong beef exports and the temporary closure of restaurants and hotels, which has all led to a 9 percent decline in domestic beef consumption during the pandemic.
    • Consumption is expected to return with warmer weather right around the corner and improvement in the economy.
  • Europe is currently dealing with a second lockdown, which means eating out is either restricted or completely closed in most countries.
    • Beef consumption will drop because of this, and increased retail sales have yet to compensate for food service losses.
    • Restrictions are expected into 2021.
  • In Australia, independent butchers account for about 20 percent of fresh meat sales. Through the pandemic, they have gained about 2 percentage points of market share in the country due to consumers looking to purchase their beef from smaller outlets in hopes of limiting their exposure to crowds.
    • These butchers have evolved through the pandemic offering new services such as home delivery, selling prepared meals and branded products.


Bill to curb rural suicides heads to President


  • Senator Chuck Grassley, R-IA, and Senator Jon Tester, D-MT, have effectively included their Seeding Rural Resilience Act as part of the National Defense Authorization Act, which is now headed to the President’s desk.
    • The Act is intended to curb the rising rate of suicides in rural areas.
  • In rural America, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the suicide rate is 45 percent higher than in urban areas.
  • Those in rural communities face isolation, distance from basic health care services, lack of broadband access, stigmas against receiving counseling and financial burdens due to tough cattle and crop prices.
    • All of these factors contribute to higher rates of stress for American farmers and ranchers.
  • This bill isn’t a silver bullet, but its an important step to breaking down the stigmas surrounding mental healthcare and providing rural communities with the resources they need to thrive so they can continue feeding the world, stated Tester.
  • The Seeding Rural Resilience Act creates three initiatives aimed at curbing the growing rate of suicides in rural America:
    • Implements a Farmer-Facing Employee Training Program that requires USDA to provide voluntary stress management training to Farm Service Agency, Risk Management Agency and National Resources Conservation Service Employees;
    • Forms a partnership between the Department of Health and Human Services and USDA to create a $3 million public service announcement campaign to increase public awareness of farm and ranch stress and destigmatize mental health care in rural communities; and
    • Directs the Secretary of Agriculture to work with state, local and non-governmental stakeholders to collaborate and determine best practices for responding to farm and ranch mental stress.


Biden administration will pay for farmers to plant cover crops


  • Conservation efforts in rural America will be a key issue as the Biden administration takes office in January. Tom Vilsack, Biden’s agricultural secretary, will carry out Biden’s ‘Rural Plan’, which includes being the first country to achieve net zero emissions.
  • The plan also aims to create new sources of farm income. The administration plans to pay farmers to put their land into conservation and plant cover crops to capture carbon in the soil.


Boxed beef prices;


  • Choice boxed beef: $208.82 (+0.87)
  • Select boxed beef: $192.20 (+0.10)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for December 15, 2020

Biden agricultural secretary pick made $1 million a year off of struggling farmers


  • Tom Vilsack, soon to be agricultural secretary for the Biden administration, spent the last four years working as a dairy industry lobbyist with the trade group U.S. Dairy Export Council.
    • In this position he received a salary of $1 million annually, which came from the Dairy checkoff, a program meant to promote milk goods, collected through mandatory fees paid by dairy farmers.
  • In 2018, Vilsack was the highest paid executive at Dairy Management Inc. He was receiving this sizable salary during a time when many dairy farmers were on the brink of financial ruin because of a downturn in milk prices.
  • The dairy checkoff program is much like the beef checkoff program; dairy farmers are required to pay 15 cents for each 100 pounds of milk they sell. This money is supposed to go towards promotion and advertisement of their dairy products.
    • Ten cents of this goes to local and regional programs and 5 cents go to fund national programs, such as Dairy Management, where Vilsack is executive vice president.
      • Dairy farmers expect their checkoff fees to work for them, but instead they are seeing them pad the pockets of people like Vilsack. Many are enraged by this considering how tight money is within the dairy industry.
    • Despite the dairy checkoff program being in place to help dairy farmers sell their product, in 2017, 1,600 dairy farms shutdown, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
    • The dairy industry has been so bad that Dean Foods, America’s largest dairy producer, filed for bankruptcy in November of this year.


USDA issues final rule to define undue or unreasonable preferences or advantages under the Packers and Stockyards Act


  • Last week, the USDA issued a final rule to ensure fair trade and competitive marketing of livestock and poultry.
    • This rule clarifies the types of conduct prohibited by the Packers and Stockyards (P&S) Act.
    • It also implements various criteria which the Secretary of Agriculture will consider when determining if conduct by packers, swine contractors or live poultry dealers represents an undue or unreasonable preference or advantage.
  • According to USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs, Greg Ibach, this criteria demonstrates USDA’s commitment to equity in the livestock, meat and poultry industries.
    • The establishment of this final rule will ultimately work to benefit everyone in the supply chain, Ibach stated.
  • The four criteria include whether the preference or advantage:
    • Cannot be justified on the basis of a cost savings related to dealing with different producers, sellers, or growers;
    • Cannot be justified on the basis of meeting a competitor’s prices;
    • Cannot be justified on the basis of meeting other terms offered by a competitor; and
    • Cannot be justified as a reasonable business decision.
  • The final rule provides the Secretary will consider these criteria and permits additional criteria to be considered in determining if an undue or unreasonable preference or advantage has occurred and enforcement action should be taken.


Boxed beef prices


  • Choice boxed beef: $209.69 (-4.19)
  • Select boxed beef: $192.30 (-3.41)


Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for December 14, 2020

Cattle feed costs impacting profits in 2021


  • Corn prices have been increasing since early August, and there is no doubt this increase has affected feeder cattle values.
  • Since mid-2014, corn prices have been fairly stable, only breaking above $4/bu. less than 10 percent of the time in terms of weekly average nearby futures. However, corn prices have recently shot by that $4-per-bushel mark.
  • The expected duration of the current corn price rally is reliant on a few factors:
    • China has played a huge role in recent corn price movements as the country significantly increased their imports of U.S. meat products to counteract a reduced hog and meat supply because of African swine fever.
      • However, with China now ramping up hog supplies, which has caused U.S. meat exports to China to decline, it has also led to strong demand for U.S. feed commodities.
    • Other factors contributing to the corn price rally include estimates of the size of this year’s corn crop decreasing and existing stocks of corn being revised lower.
  • With that being said, there are some factors that may cause corn prices to fall.
    • Recent projections have Brazil and Argentina producing a corn harvest more than 43 percent the size of the U.S. crop; back in 2015, these two nations only amounted to 28 percent of the U.S. total corn crop.
    • New lockdowns or travel restrictions due to the pandemic could negatively impact gasoline and ethanol demand, pulling corn prices down.
    • Increases to South American corn projections also have the ability to moderate corn prices.
  • Regardless of which way corn prices move, now is the time for producers to take a look at their operations and consider how they might weather the storm if feed prices continue to climb.


Feed price inflation will challenge U.S. protein recovery according to a new report from CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange Division


  • A new report from CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange division has reported that the U.S. animal protein sector is expected to face a 12 percent rise in feed costs in 2021; the largest annual jump in inflation since 2011.
  • Cattle feeders and hog and chicken producers are facing corn futures above $4/bu. and soybean meal futures around $350/ton, prices that haven’t been seen in many years.
  • According to Will Sawyer, lead animal protein economist with CoBank, increased feed costs heading into the coming year will offer minimal windows of opportunity for the livestock and poultry sectors to profit in 2021.
  • In 2021, hog producers are expected to face the highest level of feed cost inflation at 14 percent, followed by cattle feeders at 13 percent, and chicken producers at 11 percent.
  • Even though feed costs are expected to be more of a burden for producers next year, meat and poultry supply growth is expected to slow.
    • The USDA expects 0.8 percent overall growth for U.S. beef, pork and chicken production in 2021, the slowest rate of supply growth since 2014.
      • This data leaves hope that that higher feed costs may be able to be offset by higher prices.


Biden chooses Vilsack to return as agriculture secretary


  • As of last Thursday morning, President-elect Joe Biden has appointed Tom Vilsack to serve as his agriculture secretary.
    • Vilsack served as the governor of Iowa from 1999 to 2007.
    • He currently serves as the president and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council.
  • Vilsack served as agriculture secretary all eight years of the Obama administration.
    • During that time he was known for being an effective listener and working across traditional divides within the agriculture industry. He also recognized that small and large farmers play an important role in America’s agriculture success.
  • Both the American Farm Bureau Federation and National Farmers Union feel he is a great pick for the position.
  • Going forward, Vilsack is expected to bring his knowledge of production agriculture to the table and also defend the need to make farmers part of the solution for the changing climate.
  • Vilsack will most likely receive confirmation from the Senate but will face opposition from the more progressive wing of his party.
    • He is expected to focus on the progressive’s main concerns; climate change, broadband access, renewable energy and hunger.


Boxed beef prices


  • Choice boxed beef: $213.88 (-0.71)
  • Select boxed beef: $195.71 (-2.76)

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

Singapore issues first regulatory approval for lab-grown meat to Eat Just


  • Eat Just, a private company headquartered in San Francisco, CA has received the world’s first approval for its cultured meats from regulators in Singapore.
    • The company is best known for its plant-based egg substitute and is valued at $1.2 billion.
  • Over the last decade, numerous start-ups have been working to make cell-cultured meat both tasty and affordable with the end goal of persuading consumers to cut ties with conventional meat.
  • According to Eat Just’s CEO, Josh Tetrick, the way to solve the meat problem- which is a health problem, a deforestation problem and a morality problem- is to make animal protein.
  • Cultured meat is created by extracting stem cells from the fat or muscle of an animal and putting those into a culture medium that feeds the cells, which results in growth. The culture medium is then put into a bioreactor to support the cells’ growth.
  • Eat Just’s cultured chicken is high in protein, has a diversified amino acid composition and has very low microbiological content, such as salmonella and E. coli.
  • Since the company has broken into the Singapore market, they are now working on the regulatory process to get their cultured meat approved elsewhere in the world, including the U.S.
    • However, regulatory approval in the U.S. is much more difficult because cultured meat faces opposition from traditional meat producers, such as the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association.
  • Besides regulatory hoops to jump through, cost of production is one of the main barriers to the cultured meat industry’s success.
    • In 2013, Dutch start-up Mosa Meat reported that it cost $280,000 per patty to make. However, as time has passed costs have decreased due to scale increasing.
      • Eat Just uses 1,000 liter bioreactors to produce its cell-cultured chicken, which should give the company the ability to price its product similar to that of premium chicken.
    • Tetrick stated that the company is working to gain consumer trust and in order to accomplish this, the company will be transparent in how cell-cultured meat is produced and they will also work to remind consumers about the process of conventional meat production.


Farmer optimism fades following election


  • In November, just after the election, the Purdue University/CME Group Ag Economy Barometer dropped 16 points to a reading of 167. One month before that, the reading was at an all-time high.
  • According to James Mintert, the barometer’s principal investigator and director of Purdue University’s Center for Commercial Agriculture, producer’s pessimism concerning future economic conditions increased after the election.
    • This is the opposite of what happened following the November 2016 election when producer’s optimism about the future spiked and drove the Ag Economy Barometer up sharply in late 2016 and early 2017.
  • The survey showed that producers expect to see environmental regulations impacting agriculture to tighten over the next five years, higher income taxes for farms and ranches, higher estate tax rates for farms and ranches, less government support for the U.S. ethanol industry and a weaker farm income safety net provided by the U.S. government program policies.


Huge packer margins


  • Last week, beef packer profit margins were $519/hd. This was an increase of $75/hd. from the week before despite cash fed cattle prices increasing $1/cwt to an average of $110.
  • Feedyard average profits last week were $88/hd., down from $96/hd. the week before.
    • A year ago, cattle feeders were making $108/hd.
  • Just last week, the beef cutout gained almost $9/cwt. This was after a $10/cwt gain the previous week.


Boxed beef prices


  • Choice boxed beef: $240.89 (-2.51)
  • Select boxed beef: $222.95 (+0.13)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for December 2, 2020

In new allegation, lawsuit says Tyson officials lied to interpreters about Covid-19 dangers in Waterloo plant


  • A federal lawsuit filed on behalf of the families of three Tyson workers who died from Covid-19 at Tyson’s Waterloo pork processing facility has been amended.
    • The latest complaint states that senior managers at the plant lied to interpreters about the scope of coronavirus dangers at the facility.
  • Gary Mickelson, Tyson’s Senior Director of Media Relations declined to comment on the new allegation and other claims in the amended lawsuit.
    • However, he did say that the company did all that they could in the spring to slow the spread of the virus at the Waterloo plant, which employs 2,800 workers.
  • The amended suit states that plant manager Tom Hart and human resources director James Hook told interpreters during an April meeting that the facility had “no confirmed cases.” They also said that the Black Hawk County Health Department employees “cleared” the plant for operation.
    • Despite these statements, employees had tested positive for the virus and the Black Hawk County health officials had not cleared the plant to operate. Instead, they were advocating closing the building.
      • In early May, Black Hawk County public health officials reported that 1,031 of the plant’s employees had tested positive for the virus.
    • The new complaint states that Tyson managers prohibited interpreters from discussing Covid-19, except to say that the virus wasn’t impacting the plant.
      • The complaint also states that Tyson removed numerous interpreters from the plant floor after the meeting with Hart and Hook in April.
    • Other allegations in the amended complaint include:
      • Tyson managers told USDA inspectors in April to not wear masks inside the plant because they were worried it would send the wrong message.
      • At least one production worker remained on the line after vomiting.
      • A supervisor told at least one production worker to stay on the line after testing positive for the virus.
    • These new allegations come just two weeks after Tyson suspended some Waterloo managers at the plant because of claims in a previous amended version of the lawsuit that they were betting on how many workers would test positive for the virus.


Brazil’s JBS concludes deal to buy Bunge’s margarine and mayonnaise business


  • On Monday, JBS SA completed its acquisition of the margarine and mayonnaise businesses from Bunge’s local unit.
    • Commodities trader and food processor Bunge agreed to sell its margarine and mayonnaise assets in Brazil to JBS’s subsidiary Seara Alimentos in December of last year.
  • The deal includes the purchase of three manufacturing facilities previously owned by Bunge.
    • Seara will pay Bunge $131.24 million for the assets.
  • The acquisition will improve JBS’ position in the margarine market in Brazil, as well as its distribution capabilities.
  • According to JBS, the deal should bring in 1.2 billion reais ($2.3 million) of additional annual revenue to the Seara division.


Boxed beef prices


  • Choice boxed beef: $243.34 (-0.34)
  • Select boxed beef: $224.12 (+1.69)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for December 1, 2020

New Zealand grass-fed brand launches U.S. direct-to-consumer e-commerce website


  • New Zealand’s Silver Fern Farms has launched a direct-to-consumer e-commerce website to sell its premium grass-fed red meat products to customers across the United States.
    • All products are shipped frozen and their beef and lamb is 100 percent grass-fed and pasture-raised. It is also hormone and antibiotic free.
  • Silver Fern Farms was able to establish a retail footprint in New York City and the surrounding metro area in 2019. In 2020, the company established itself in Southern California and Midwestern states.
  • Since the pandemic has hit and much of the world has dealt with supply chain issues, Silver Fern Farms has worked to ensure constant production, which has led to increased exports to the U.S.
  • The company offers bundles and a la carte options with choices such as beef, venison and lamb.


Ag lenders don’t expect profits in 2021


  • According to the “Fall 2020 Agricultural Lender Survey” report produced jointly by the American Bankers Association and the Federal Agricultural Mortgage Corporation, lenders are most concerned about their customer’s liquidity, income and leverage heading into 2021.
    • They are also worried about uncertainty regarding tariffs and trade, the weather and the impacts of Covid-19 and the economic downturn that may result.
  • The survey stated that on average, lenders reported that just under 51 percent of their agricultural borrowers were profitable in 2020, down from 57 percent in 2019.
    • When the survey was conducted, about half of the lenders did not expect profitability to improve in 2021.
  • The majority of the concerns fall on the grain, dairy and cattle sectors.
  • With the tough times pressing in on the agriculture industry, producers are looking to diversify their operations.
    • Forty-three percent of lenders reported that they had received inquiries about financing for hemp production and just over one-third of lenders are asking about financing for renewable energy projects.
  • The survey showed that 82.2 percent of lenders said that overall farm debt increased over the last year.
  • Heading into 2021, lenders expect higher agricultural loan delinquency rates for both production and agricultural real estate.
  • Despite the survey being fairly negative, lenders remain positive regarding approvals.
    • The survey reported an average agricultural loan application approval rate for new loans at 72.3 percent in the 12 months leading up to August 2020.
      • Lenders also expect the approval rate for renewal requests to be close to 90 percent in the next year.


Projections for feed prices up sharply


  • According to the USDA, forecasts for feed prices have increased dramatically.
    • The corn price estimate for 2019-2020 marketing year is $3.56/bu and the estimate for 2020-2021 is $4.00/bu., up $0.40 from last month’s forecast
    • Soybean meal price estimate for 2019-2020 is $299.50 per short ton and for 2020-2021 the estimate is $355 per short ton, up $20 from the last reported forecast.
  • Record U.S. corn exports are expected for 2020-2021 because of two major global market developments.
    • First, China has accelerated their pace of grain imports to meet higher feed demands of their increased livestock inventories and meat production.
    • Second, Ukraine’s 2020-2021 corn production has been cut significantly because of hot, dry conditions throughout parts of the country.
      • In past years, Ukraine has been the fourth largest corn exporter in the world.
    • With world supplies of corn reduced, the U.S. is expected to capture a larger percentage of global exports in 2020-2021.


Boxed beef prices


  • Choice boxed beef: $243.68 (+0.83)
  • Select boxed beef: $222.43 (+1.75)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for November 30, 2020

Steak out: China’s coronavirus testing chokes beef trade


  • China is experiencing empty meat shelves that usually stock beef from around the world, but tougher testing of coronavirus has created supply bottlenecks and increased prices for importers.
  • China originally started testing batches of imported chilled and frozen meat and seafood for coronavirus in June.
    • The country amplified their testing earlier this month after port workers in numerous cities tested positive for Covid-19.
  • Additional testing of more product and supplementary disinfection has elevated costs for importers, while also tacking on additional time and layers of red tape.
    • Some importers have cut purchases due to these increased costs and weaker demand caused by consumers’ coronavirus concerns.
      • Some Chinese beef traders have reported orders for imported beef demand dropping back 50 percent over Covid-19 fears.
    • Additional costs for importers have increased 200 percent thanks to the additional testing and the extra time that a product must sit in a warehouse.
    • In southwestern China, a beef importer reported that he has reduced imports to less than one quarter of the volumes of previous years.
      • This comes at in inopportune time with the country hitting its peak demand season ahead of the New Year and Lunar New Year holidays.
    • China says that the risk of shoppers actually contracting the virus from chilled food is low, but officials have also reported that those who handle the outer packaging of imported cold-chain food have a much higher risk of infection.
    • Chinese beef importers have also had to deal with bitter trade relations with key beef supplier Australia.


Fast spreading bird flu puts EU poultry industry on edge


  • Bird flu is spreading rapidly across Europe causing their poultry industry to be on high alert.
    • In the past, the industry has experienced other outbreaks that have caused tens of millions of birds to be culled, resulting in significant economic losses.
  • Countries that have confirmed cases include France, the Netherlands, Germany Britain, Belgium, Denmark, Ireland, Sweden, Croatia, Slovenia and Poland.
    • The disease has also found its way to Russia, Kazakhstan and Israel.
  • Most cases are in migrating wild birds, but there have been a few outbreaks reported on farms.
    • So far, 1.6 million chickens and ducks have either died or been culled in the area.
  • This fall, the Netherlands, Europe’s largest exporter of chicken meat and eggs, has seen almost 500,000 chickens die or have to be culled because of bird flu.
    • Just last week, a single farm in Poland saw 900,000 hens die.
  • The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) reported that Russia’s poultry death toll reached 1.8 million by the end of October.
    • One farm located near Kazakhstan accounted for 1.6 million of those poultry deaths.
  • There are various strains of the bird flu; the main strain found this year in Europe is H5N8, the same strain that decimated flocks in 2016 and 2017.
    • During those two years, the European region reported its largest outbreak in poultry and wild birds.
  • Almost all counties across Europe have their alert status set to “high”, indicating that poultry and birds of all types need to be kept indoors or protected to avoid contact with wild birds.


Boxed beef prices


  • Choice boxed beef: $242.85 (-2.21)
  • Select boxed beef: $220.68 (-0.22)


Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for November 27, 2020

Priciest cows ever are squeezing meatpackers in Brazil beef boom


  • For some time now, Brazil has been experiencing a beef boom, but it seems as if that boom might’ve hit its peak.
  • Brazilian beef exports are surging thanks to a weakening currency that has boosted the appeal of Brazilian shipments.
    • The majority of these exports are heading to China.
  • Tremendous exports have been a positive for Brazil’s cattle industry, but the country is now seeing their cattle supplies shrink and packers are being forced to pay 50 percent more for cattle as prices reach record highs.
    • The industry is having a difficult time passing those higher costs onto Brazilian consumers, and margins have begun to erode.
  • Even though exports to China have propped up earnings for JBS SA and Marfrig Global Foods SA, both companies have seen narrower margins this year than what they experienced in 2019, according to Cesar de Castro Alves, agribusiness consultant at Itau BBA.
  • Wesley Batista, JBS South America’s head, stated earlier this month that Brazilian beef operations have been challenging due to low cattle supplies.
    • In the third quarter, JBS beef margins in Brazil fell to 7.5 percent from 13.8 percent in the previous quarter.
      • To offset higher cattle prices, the company has increased prices in the Brazilian and export markets.


President-elect Biden’s EPA could bring major agriculture changes


  • As president-elect Joe Biden fills his Cabinet, many are wondering whom he will appoint as EPA administrator.
  • According to Randy Russell, president of the Russell Group and an agricultural lobbyist, Biden’s EPA transition team seems to be much more progressive and driven by activists. He believes that the EPA will pose many more issues for the agriculture community going forward.
  • A couple names that have been brought to the table for the position of EPA administrator are Mary Nichols and Jay Inslee.
    • Mary is the chair of the California Air Resources Board and previously served as a senior staff attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council. She has also spent 45 years serving as an environmental lawyer.
    • Jay Inslee is the Governor of Washington and holds a strong focus on the climate.
  • President Trump’s EPA withdrew the Obama Administration’s “waters of the U.S.” (WOTUS) rule and by June 22nd of this year, Trump’s Navigable Waters Rule took affect.
    • Russell believes it would be best for the Biden Administration to not try to revert back to Obama’s WOTUS rule or anything along those lines. He said that such a move would irritate the agriculture industry “at a time when they don’t need to pick that fight.”
  • Even though Biden isn’t expected to eliminate the recently approved dicamba registration, the Center for Food Safety (CFS) has called on the Biden administration to take immediate action in its first 180 days to halt or revoke EPA’s re-approvals of glyphosate, dicamba, sulfloxaflor, atrazine and isoxaflutole.
  • Various food and agricultural activities that would usually be subject to environmental review under the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) are now exempt or only subject to lessened scrutiny under a Trump Administration rule.
    • However with a new EPA, the Center for Food Safety is asking for the previous NEPA protections to be restored.
    • CFS also wants to restore how the Endangered Species Act is applied, another change that the Trump Administration made.


Boxed beef prices


  • Choice boxed beef: $245.06 (+0.76)
  • Select boxed beef: $220.90 (+1.19)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for November 25, 2020

Meat packers accelerated spread of Covid-19, study says


  • Last week, the Academy of Sciences released research linking meatpacking plants to 6 to 8 percent of U.S. Covid-19 cases.
    • The study also found that plants are correlated with 3 to 4 percent of Covid-19 deaths through late July.
  • Authors of the data stated that meatpacking plants act as “transmission vectors” and “accelerate the spread of the virus.”
  • Researchers found that the risk of excess death mostly came from large meatpacking plants operated by industry giants. Communities that were able to shut slaughterhouses down reduced the spread of the virus.
  • According to the authors, livestock processing facilities not only pose a health risk to meatpacking companies and their workers, the risk extends throughout the public where the plants are located.
  • By July 21st, packing plants were associated with 236,000 to 310,000 Covid-19 cases and 4,300 to 5,200 deaths.
    • The majority of these cases were community spread outside of packing plants.
  • The plants that received waivers from the USDA to increase their production-line speeds had significantly more countywide cases.
  • The study concluded by saying that public health and robust essential supply chains may require an increase in meatpacking oversight and possibly a shift toward more decentralized, small-scale meat production.


Expanding beef processing capacity is an NCBA priority


  • Danielle Beck, NCBA’s director of government affairs, says expanding processing capacity is one of the organization’s top priorities heading into 2021.
  • Beck stated that NCBA has heard the call from their members for more packing capacity and the organization plans to pursue different opportunities going forward to solve this issue.
  • There are numerous legislative proposals on the table, and NCBA claims that they have a few in their back pocket that they will be working on in the next Congress.
  • Additionally, NCBA is looking at various ways to make improvements to the system without having to rely on Congress for help.


Vegans and non-meat eaters are more likely to suffer broken bones, Oxford University Research shows


  • Recent research released by the University of Oxford proves that non-meat eaters, specifically vegans, have a higher risk of breaking bones, due to lower intakes of calcium and protein.
  • The study included 55,000 British people that were grouped into four diet groups composed of 29,380 meat eaters, 8,037 fish eaters, 15,499 vegetarians and 1,982 vegans.
  • Results of the study over an average of 17.6 years showed 3,941 cases of total fractures. It was concluded that vegans in this study had higher risks of total and some site-specific fractures (hip, leg, vertebra) compared to meat eaters.
    • Specifically, those who were fish eaters, vegetarians and vegans had a much higher risk of hip fractures.


CFAP payments top $20 billion


  • As of November 11th, the USDA has approved more than $10 billion each for CFAP1 and CFAP2.
  • The top payments for CFAP1 have been made for cattle, corn, milk, hogs and soybeans.
  • CFAP2 made the most payments to corn, cattle, sales commodities, soybeans and milk.
    • Sales commodities include specialty crops, aquaculture, nursery crops and floriculture, and other commodities not included in the price trigger and flat-rate categories.
  • So far, Iowa farmers have received the most CFAP2 payments at nearly $953 million. Nebraska follows at $688 million, Minnesota with almost $666 million, Illinois with almost $638 million and California with $618 million.


Boxed beef prices


  • Choice boxed beef: $244.30 (+2.70)
  • Select boxed beef: $219.71 (+2.23)

Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for November 24, 2020

ACLU files federal lawsuit against a Nebraska meatpacking plant over “treacherous Covid-19 conditions”


  • On Monday, a federal lawsuit was filed against Hastings, NE beef processor, Noah’s Ark Processors.
  • Plaintiffs in the lawsuit include former plant employees and a local pediatrician who treats the children of meatpacking workers and people with Covid-19.
    • The American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska (ACLU), and Scottsbluff attorney Maren Chaloupka represent the plaintiffs.
  • The plaintiffs are challenging Noah’s Ark Processors claiming treacherous Covid-19 conditions at the plant.
  • According to the lawsuit, the processor failed to take public health precautions, such as physical distancing, adequate sick leave, testing and providing clean masks to protect its workers and the community from a new surge of Covid-19 cases.
  • The plaintiffs claim the plant is a public nuisance due to the transmission of Covid-19 within the plant and outside the plant. The result of this is widespread disease, hospitalizations, and death, not only among plant workers, but workers’ family members and those in the public whom they interact with.
  • The lawsuit seeks a court order requiring the processor to implement four basic practices: physical distancing, clean masks, sick leave and testing.


Beyond Meat creates plant-based pork product for China market


  • Beyond Meat plans to introduce Beyond Pork, a new plant-based ground pork product, to the Chinese market.
  • Beyond Pork is the company’s first product designed specifically for China.
  • The product will have a juicy texture comparable to traditional 70/30 ground pork, but it will have approximately 50 percent less saturated and total fat. Additionally, the plant-based meat product will contain 18.5 grams of protein per 100-gram serving and be produced without GMOs, antibiotics or hormones.


Thousands march in Taiwan against U.S. pork imports


  • On Sunday, thousands of people marched in the streets of Taipei in protest against U.S. pork imports into Taiwan.
    • Protesters claimed there are food safety issues with these imports.
  • In August, President Tsai Ing-wen’s administration relaxed a long-standing ban on U.S. pork and beef imports. The ban is supposed to be lifted in January 2021.
  • The new policy will allow U.S. pork imports into Taiwan with acceptable residues of ractopamine.
    • Ractopamine is a drug used in animal feed that promotes growth of lean meat.
  • This decision has been met with aggressive opposition from the Kuomintang party and individual citizens.
  • One protester, Kelvin Chen, said if Taiwan imports U.S. pork and then blends it with domestic product, consumers have no way of knowing the source of their pork and what they’re really consuming.


Tofurky looks to block Missouri law on alternative-meat labels


  • On behalf of Turtle Island Foods, also known as Tofurky, the American Civil Liberties Union has made a request to a federal appeals court to void a Missouri law making it illegal to label plant-based products as meat.
    • Tofurky believes that the Missouri statute violates the company’s right to free speech.
  • In rebuttal on behalf of the state, the Missouri Attorney General’s office contended that the alternative-meat company should have no problem with the law if its products are clearly labeled as derived from plants.
  • In 2018, Missouri passed the law making it illegal for a company to misrepresent a product as meat if it is not made from livestock or poultry.
    • This crime is punishable by up to a year in prison.
  • Tofurky has been busy with these legal disputes, as they have been contesting the same issue in a handful of states across the country.
    • The company won an injunction against a similar law in Arkansas, and they are currently challenging another such law in Louisiana.


Boxed beef prices


  • Choice boxed beef: $241.60 (+3.25)
  • Select boxed beef: $217.48 (+2.50)
  • As of Friday afternoon, in the last three weeks, Choice boxed beef increased by $30.25 and Select cutouts increased $23.74.


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; www.nationalbeefwire.com

  • 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; www.nationalbeefwire.com

  • 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: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChbLBYh95NNRJzJtVaq65Ew

United States Cattlemen’s Association Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/uscattlemens

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


  • 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


  • 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 regulations.gov 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.
  • https://www.change.org/ShowingUpFP
  • 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; www.nationalbeefwire.com

  • 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; www.nationalbeefwire.com

  • 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


  • 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


  • 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)