Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for December 28, 2020

by | Dec 28, 2020 | 0 comments

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)


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How did we get here?

From the Holcomb Tyson fire to COVID-19;
Click to see a timeline of events that have brought to light the profit and pricing disparity in cattle markets.


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