U.S. beef prices are down slightly from this time last year, though that shouldn’t necessarily worry ranchers because prices could rebound by the end of the year.
Demand for beef products is up a bit at home, but the export market to Canada, Mexico and several countries in Asia is really booming.
John Nalivka, president of the agriculture analysis firm Sterling Marketing out of Vale, Oregon, says exports are up 13 percent so far this year. He spoke at the Idaho Cattle Association's summer conference this week.
Still, wholesale steer prices ended the day at $109 per hundred pounds this week. Nalivka says there’s a bit of volatility to keep ranchers on their toes.
“We’re kind of juggling a lot of balls up in the air right now and once we kind of get a little more certainty on at least one or two of these factors then it’ll give us a better picture of where we’re heading,” he says.
It’s exceptionally dry right now in prime cattle country – meaning Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas. Eastern Oregon is feeling the heat, with the southwest tip of Idaho beginning to see drought creep in.
That’s led ranchers to send their calves to the feed lot instead of grazing pastures far earlier than normal – meaning the beef supply could drop in the last quarter of 2018.
A tighter supply and a strong demand could result in higher prices and a lot of happy cattlemen.
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