COLUMNISTS

Momentum stalls after rise in cattle prices

Jeff Swenson

Prepared and written by Jeff Swenson, DATCP Livestock and Meat Specialist. The Market Update draws information from several sources, including trade publications, radio broadcasts, agricultural news services, individuals involved in the industry as well as USDA NASS and AMS reports.

Jeff Swenson

Cattle prices ended last week $2.00/cwt higher, but momentum stalled as country trade has been slow to develop this week. Action at Wisconsin and surrounding state auction markets has been mostly steady with last week on feed cattle.

Wholesale beef prices were higher at midweek as the beef cutout value broke through the $300.00 barrier once again. It’s unlikely we’ll see lower wholesale and retail beef prices until after Labor Day.

Last week’s estimated harvest of 641,000 head was 8,000 head less than the previous week and 8,000 head higher than a year ago. While meat exports were strong the first six months of 2021, sales have slowed recently with 13,600 metric tons sold according to the most recent weekly report.   

Producers not holding on to hogs

Cash hogs ended last week $1.00/cwt lower, but higher cutout values midweek are pulling live prices higher again. Hogs marketed year-to-date is 1.1 percent lower than last year.

Last year’s weekly harvest estimate of 2.327 million was significantly lower than last year’s same week total of 2.559 million head. Weights have been holding steady, indicating that the supply is not only current, but producers aren’t holding on to hogs hoping for higher prices. Weekly export sales numbers were lower compared to recent weeks at 14,600 metric tons.

June beef exports up

June beef exports totaled 112,249 metric tons (MT), up 42% from a year ago when exports were still hampered by COVID-related slowdowns in production.

First-half exports reached 700,087 MT, up 18% from a year ago. Compared to 2018, the record year for U.S. beef exports, first-half results were up 6% in volume and 15% in value. Beef export value equated to $351.18 per head of fed cattle value in June, up 60% from last June’s COVID-impacted average. The first-half per-head average was $359.49, up 20% from a year ago. June exports accounted for 13.6% of total beef production.

Pork exports reached 238,935 MT in June, up 15% from a year ago. First-half pork exports topped last year’s record pace by 1% at 1.58 million MT. Pork export value equated to $65.44 per head harvested in June, up 42% from a year ago. Per-head value averaged $67.04 in the first half, up 5%. June exports accounted for 29.4% of total pork production.

June exports of U.S. lamb were 37% below last year at 1,083 MT, but still managed a slight increase in value to $1.6 million. For the first half of the year, lamb exports increased 25% from a year ago to 6,816 MT, valued at $9.1 million (up 14%).

Export growth was fueled mainly by strong demand for both muscle cuts and variety meat in Mexico and larger muscle cut shipments to Bermuda, Trinidad and Tobago, and Canada.

Corn crop forecast up 4% over 2020

The USDA Crop Production report projects the nation’s 2021 corn crop to average 174.6 bushels per acre, with the total crop coming in at 14.8 billion bushels. If realized, that would be 4 percent greater than the 2020 crop.

Soybeans are expected to average 50.0 bushels per acre. Wisconsin’s corn crop is forecast to average 167 bushels, 7 bushels below last year. Wisconsin soybeans are expected to average 49 bushels per acre, down from 51 bushels last year.

State auction markets hold steady

Choice beef breed steers and heifers at Wisconsin and surrounding state auction markets were steady. High-yielding, high-grading cattle brought $108.00 to $126.00/cwt with highs to $130.00/cwt.

Choice and Prime Holstein steers were mostly steady, bringing $92.00 to $115.00/cwt. There were some packages of Holstein steers selling above $115.00/cwt. Silage fed, under finished, or heavy dairy breed steers brought $70.00 to $94.00/cwt. Dairy x Beef steers were mostly $90.00 to $120.00/cwt.

Cows were higher at $45.00 to $65.00/cwt. Blemish free cows in fleshier condition were selling in to the high $70.00s/cwt. Doubtful health and thin cows were bringing $41.00/cwt and down. Dairy breed bull calves were lower at $30.00 to $80.00/cwt with heavier, well cared for calves up to $110.00/cwt.

Beef and Beef Cross calves brought up to $300.00/cwt. Market lambs sold to $250.00/cwt.