Talking markets, here and there

Classroom notes

Young Cattlemen’s Conference class members have spent the morning discussing markets for their product. And let me tell you, these folks aren’t shy about asking questions or discussing the tough issues.

Cattle markets “here” in the United States are the speciality of Cattle Fax. One hot topic is the U.S. cowherd numbers. Duane Lenz, with Cattle Fax, echoed what we have heard earlier in the trip.

Cowherd numbers are running a little over 90 million. That’s down from a peak in the mid-1970s of 135 million. As many of the cattlemen in this class know, last year’s drought in Texas and beyond did nothing to help cowherd numbers. While that drought is improving somewhat, Lenz said that Cattle Fax does not expect that those numbers are going to go up anytime soon. There will be growth, but it will be slow and stable.

Markets are also important “there,” outside the United States border. Exports are a key part of profitability for the U.S. beef industry, Joe Schuele told us. Schuele is with the US Meat Export Federation. In fact, the value of beef exports equated to $206 per head of processed cattle last year. This is up this is up from $150 just two years ago. Exporting variety meat is critically important, he said.

The good news for beef producers is that U.S. beef exports set a new record value in 2011 at $5.42 billion, Scheule said. This number shattered the previous year’s record of $4.08 billion and easily surpassed the pre-BSE high of $3.86 billion.

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