Current Cattle Market Daily Headlines for February 15, 2021

by | Feb 15, 2021 | 0 comments

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)


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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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