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Cattle On Feed Report Reflects BSE Impact

posted on February 20, 2004

There were several developments on the Mad Cow front this week.

Italian scientists say they've found a second form of the disease that more closely resembles the human equivalent of Mad Cow.

A Congressional committee is challenging USDA's assertion that the nation's first case of Mad Cow came from an animal that was lame.

And the government predicts shoppers will pay less for beef this year as the industry unloads at home the meat that other countries have banned from export.

That forecast gained credence on Friday with the release of the latest cattle on feed report.

Cattle On Feed Report Reflects BSE Impact This month's cattle-on-feed report was the first to reflect the impact of the nation's initial case of Mad Cow disease. As prices began to drop in the wake of the discovery, producers and feedlots alike hung on to inventory. That led to record low placements and marketings for the month of January.

Released after the close of the markets on Friday, the report shows total cattle on feed at 104 percent of a year ago, placements at just 84 percent, and marketings at 90 percent. It was the lowest January total for both placements and marketings since 1996.

While the number of livestock being kept from slaughter is not historically high, the report did mark the fourth straight month in which there was an increase in cattle on feed numbers over previous year levels. Analysts believe that trend will continue as long as multinational bans on U.S. beef exports remain in place.

Placements, meanwhile, could remain low due to the loss of Canadian live feeder imports and the smallest U.S. calf crop in more than 50 years.

The short-term price impact of the report is seen as negative, as front-end supplies of live cattle balloon and producers struggle to remain current.

Tags: agriculture animals beef cattle diseases economy food safety livestock Mad Cow meat news