South Dakota ranchers unhappy with Rounds’ MCOOL resolution
- American cattle producers have been asking for “Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling (MCOOL)” on beef products for quite some time now.
- The nation’s four major meatpackers have been mixing foreign beef with American beef, and cattle producers feel that the two products need to be differentiated.
- Senator Tester of Montana and Senator Rounds of South Dakota recently proposed a resolution to support MCOOL, but many American cattle producers feel this resolution is helpful.
- A resolution is not a bill, so legally this doesn’t require the packers to change anything with their beef labeling. Packers are still able to import foreign beef at a cheaper price, mix it with domestic product, and gouge consumers with record prices.
- Liz May, a cattle producer who also runs a grocery store, says imports need to be shut down. It doesn’t make sense to continue to import beef when we have an abundant domestic supply of cattle.
Beef in cold storage surges
- USDA has reported that the amount of beef in cold storage at the end of April was up sharply compared to the same period in 2019.
- Beef cold storage is reported at 489.999 million pounds, up 14% on the year. This increase comes even with a month-to-month decline in supplies due to processing plant issues.
- Pork was reported at 614.8 million pounds, 1% lower than a year ago.
- Total red meat storage was reported at 1.148 billion pounds, 5% higher than last year at this time.
Cattle slaughter 1 million head short in six weeks
- America’s beef packers are slowing improving weekly harvest rates.
- Last week USDA reported slaughter at 499,000 head, up 14% higher than two weeks ago. This week is projected to hover around 530,000 head.
- Last week’s slaughter was still 25% lower than the same week a year ago.
- Slaughter since the second week of April is 1 million head lower (27%) than the same period a year ago. A backlog of 1 million head of cattle in the feedyards means the urgency to get packers running at full capacity is of great importance.
- It is expected that processing plants should have kill capacity back up to 90% by the fourth quarter.
- Another great concern is the increased slaughter weights. Cattle being backed up in the feedyards will result in increased weights. There is a good chance we will see this increase in weights through the end of the year and into 2021.
- Weights are record high for both steers and heifers.
- Steer carcasses for the last week of April: 41 lbs. heavier than the previous year.
- Heifer carcasses for the last week of April: 31 lbs. heaver than the previous year.
Boxed beef prices
- Choice boxed beef: $401.81 (-$2.23)
- Select boxed beef: $382.53 (-$8.65)