Iowa Public Television


USDA: Suppliers Holding Cattle Inventories

posted on March 18, 2005

Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns this week announced that almost $2 million in funding has been redirected to research on bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or Mad Cow disease. The secretary also said some $5 million has been allocated to 17 colleges and universities to establish a Food Safety Research and Response Network.

The specter of Mad Cow has made for changing times in the beef industry. But one thing that hasn't changed is consumer demand for beef. It's remained strong. That's good news for cattle producers, who this week focused attention on the latest feedlot inventory.

USDA: Suppliers Holding Cattle Inventories According to USDA, cattle producers in February continued to hold large inventories. Analysts said the reluctance to move livestock was due to anticipated renewed imports of cheaper Canadian cattle that never materialized.

Released after the close of the markets on Friday, the report shows total cattle on feed at 102 percent of a year ago, placements at 94 percent, and marketings at 96 percent. It was the lowest February total for placements in four years ... and the lowest for marketings in nine years.

Analysts say packers and feedlots both have been playing it close to the vest as they expected imports of Canadian cattle to resume on March 7th. But a federal court's temporary injunction that blocked the resumption of trade caught many in the industry off guard. And though retail demand for beef remains strong, suppliers are waiting for a correction in cash bids before stepping up sales.

Tags: agriculture animals beef cattle government livestock Mad Cow meat news USDA