Tuesday, January 04, 2005


The Author grew up on a Nebr. farm, and worked on a Feedlot during High School. He likes to express his 'Hick' roots, simply as manesfitation of pride in his deceased, small Farmer father. He like additionally to eat a majority of Beef, thinking the admonishments against eating red meat to be overdrawn, even if accurate. Below is presented:

State of the Beef Industry 2004
Gary May and John Lawrence

It is a good Report, but the real 'meat' was in the Sidebars:

Reflecting decreased production, per capita beef consumption declined by four pounds in 2003.
Retail beef prices set a record in 2003, reflecting reduced domestic beef production as well as imports.
Beef trade was interrupted in 2003 by BSE, as import restrictions cut off Canadian imports for three months.
Beef and dairy cow numbers declined during 2003 for the seventh consecutive year. The dairy industry reduced their cow inventory as well.
The 2003 calf crop was the lowest since 1952. The 2004 calf crop is projected to be down another 1%.
The total cattle inventory for January 1, 2004 was 94,882,000, representing the smallest inventory of cattle since 1959. Beef cows accounted for 35% of the total inventory.
Registered cattle account for less than 1% of the 95 million beef animals in the U.S. However, these 706,974 cattle are the genetic base of the beef industry.
Fed Cattle prices set all-time records in the fall 2003, boosting the annual average price to a record level as well.
Cow/calf returns have been relatively favorable in the past 5 years, suggesting producers may be willing to build their herds in 2004.
The number of beef cow operations in the US totaled 792,000. Contrary to other segments of the livestock industry, the beef cow sector is relatively diversified and does not appear to be consolidating.
Feedlots with 1,000 or greater head capacity make up only 2% of the total U.S. feedlots but they control 82% of the total feedlot inventory and 85% of the total marketings.
The "Big Three" process 72% of steers and heifers, 63% of all commercial cattle.(Tyson, Excel, and Swift--with Farmland not far behind)
Cattle slaughter in 2003 was down 0.8% while beef production was down 3.3%.
The number of smaller lots make up almost 98% of the U.S. total, but only market 15% of the total cattle marketed in the United States.
The larger feedlots continue to grow much faster than the moderate-sized lots.

Other items were included:

With the exception of Canada and Mexico, the major foreign markets for US beef products remain closed. (The Author read recently that American Beef is back in Japan, he thinks)

Outlasting any impacts on the demand for beef will be the new regulations enacted in the aftermath of the announcement(BSE in the U.S.). For example, packers are now required to segregate and remove specified risk materials from cattle over 30 months of age. Furthermore, slaughter plants can no longer accept sick or lame cattle, forcing producers to dispose of these animals at a cost rather than collecting salvage value from their sale.

In spite of a record corn crop in 2003, corn prices are climbing to the highest level since the 1995-96 marketing year. Even 30-40 percent higher corn futures were unable to lure corn acreage away from other crops. Consequently, most market analysts believe a record crop will be needed to keep harvest prices in the $2.75 to $3.00 range.
Some may need a scoresheet to analyze this data; if you don't, the Author will give you one anyway! The Cattle population has dropped drastically since 1959, and need be recouped. The increases should come in the Purebred Cattle(best-flavored beef is Angus). The Cattle population should exceed 100 million again, both to lower Retail price for Consumers, and to utilize grazing land and Feedlots fully. Feed prices has been adversely affected by the recent Farm bills--which encourage and underwrite large Corporate agribusiness in their monopoly pricing by constriction of Feed supplies. The concentration of Feeders in conglomorate Feedlots leads to adverse feeding conditions (highly chemical-based). Small Feedlots lead to more environmetally sane feeding practice, and due to the less-Processed feeds used, produce higher quality Beef. BSE probably would not have entered the U.S. if small Feedlot operators had excluded the 'recycle' cannibalism feed practices of the big Feedlots. USDA should be required to reimburse Producers and Feedlot Operators for destroyed Cattle under the new regulations; one lost Head will normally destroy the profitablity of five Head. lgl

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