Iowa Public Television


Cattle Numbers Neutral to Market

posted on July 23, 2004

The battle rages on over whether to make country-of-origin labeling a mandatory or voluntary program. The House Agriculture Committee voted this week to kill the mandatory COOL law that was part of the 2002 farm bill. The committee favors a voluntary program. That move is backed by the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, and the National Pork Producers Council, among others. But it's opposed by the Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, which continues to lobby for a mandatory COOL.

Cattle producers also are pondering some broader market considerations, like softening demand and Friday's cattle-on-feed and inventory reports from USDA.

Cattle Numbers Neutral to Market USDA's monthly cattle-on-feed report and its mid-year cattle inventory were neutral to a market undergoing some seasonal price pressure.

All cattle and calves totaled 103.6 million head, down slightly from year-ago levels. The nation's cowherd was placed at 42.5 million head. That's also slightly below year-ago levels and continues the nine-year trend in herd liquidation.

The July 1 cattle-on-feed report showed the number on feed at 102 percent of year-ago levels, the number placed at 98 percent, and the number marketed at just 93 percent.

Despite an uptick this week, the government reports underscore the belief of many analysts that fed cattle prices will hit seasonal lows through the end of July. Recent false positive BSE tests and slowly diminishing demand should slow the cattle market's attempts at an August recovery.

One positive sign for the beef market was in export sales, with optimism growing for a breakthrough on the Japanese trade ban.

Tags: agriculture animals beef cattle livestock markets meat news USDA