Cattle Outlook: Beef Imports, Exports Declined in February

US - US beef exports totalled 172 million pounds in February, down 1.4 per cent from January and down 3.2 per cent from February 2015, write Ron Plain and Scott Brown, Ag Economics, MU.
calendar icon 11 April 2016
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Ron Plain
Ron Plain

Less beef was shipped to Mexico, Canada and Philippines than last year.

Beef imports equalled 232 million pounds, down 19 per cent from January and down 9 per cent year-over-year. The biggest decline was in Australian beef.

During February beef exports equalled 9.1 per cent of US production and imports equalled 12.3 per cent of production.

There were 83,827 cattle imported from Mexico during February. That was up 59 per cent from the month before, but down 18 per cent from February 2015. Cattle imports from Canada totalled 67,839 head, up 32 per cent from January, but down 26 per cent compared to a year ago.

Beef cutout values were down for the third consecutive week, but fed cattle prices held steady last week. This morning the choice boxed beef cutout value was $215.18/cwt, down $4.67 from the previous Friday and down $41.98 from a year ago. The select carcass cutout was $205.62/cwt, down $2.49 from last week and down $45.53 from a year ago. The choice-select price spread remained large at $9.56/cwt.

Fed cattle prices held steady this week in heavy volume. Through Thursday, the 5-area average price for slaughter steers sold on a live weight basis was $133.82/cwt, up 70 cents from last week's average, but down $29.31 from a year ago. The 5-area dressed steer price averaged $214.47/cwt, down 37 cents from the week before and down $49.54 from a year ago.

Last week's cattle slaughter totalled 535,000 head, down 1.3 per cent from last week, but up 6.2 per cent from a year ago.

The average steer dressed weight for the week ending on March 26 was 887 pounds, down 8 pounds from the week before, but up 13 pounds from a year ago. This was the 93rd consecutive week with steer weights above the year-ago level.

Prices at the Oklahoma City Stockyards last week were steady to $3 higher on feeder cattle and steady on calves compared to last week. Prices for medium and large frame #1 steers by weight group were: 400-450# $228-$231, 450-500# $193-$210.50, 500-550# $190.25-$198.50, 550-600# $177-$192.50, 600-650# $169.50-$187, 650-700# $150-$180, 700-750# $158-$167.50, 750-800# $149-$161, 800-900# $137-$155 and 900-1000# $135.50-$147/cwt.

Today, the April live cattle futures contract settled at $134.37/cwt today, up $1.40 for the week. June fed cattle settled at $124.02/cwt, up 45 cents from the previous week. The August contract ended the week at $119.57/cwt, unchanged from the previous Friday.

Higher corn futures were a drag on feeder cattle futures this week. April feeder cattle ended the week at $155.90/cwt, down 30 cents from a week earlier. May futures lost $1.85 this week to close at $152.85/cwt. August feeder cattle settled at $153.92/cwt.

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