Beef Industry Continues Lower Production Trend

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Beef Industry Continues Lower Production Trend
Chris Hurt, Purdue Extension Ag Economist

The beef industry stands alone in 2015 in its continued reduction in supplies available to consumers. Todd Gleason has more on why it is set apart from the rest of the livestock industry.

2014, by contrast, was a special year for the animal production…
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2014, by contrast, was a special year for the animal production industry. It set record high farm level prices for cattle, hogs, broilers, turkeys, milk and eggs. 2015 should see much lower annualized prices after the surprisingly fast expansion of the poultry, pork and dairy industries. Beef stands alone in the continuation toward lower production. This does not necessarily mean the price of beef will remain record high. Live cattle futures are suggesting a return to a more normal seasonal price pattern this year. This would mean that while beef cattle have so far traded higher than last year, that pattern would end now says Purdue University Extension Ag Economist Chris Hurt.

Hurt :26 …a couple of dollars lower than 2014.

Quote Summary - The futures tone stays weak through summer with prices falling to the middle $140s by the end of summer and then rallying to the low $150s toward the end of the year. With prices so far this year and futures estimates for the remainder of the year, finished steers would average $153, a couple of dollars lower than 2014.

That’s Chris Hurt’s view, however, USDA has a different take. Agency forecasters in the April 9 WASDE (wahz-dee) report took a much more bullish path with $163.50 at the mid-point of their annual estimated range. Also of note is that USDA analysts increased the potential range of prices as the year progresses. One reason to increase a price forecast range is because of greater uncertainty says Hurt.

Hurt :19 …with annual prices near last year’s $155.

Quote Summary - My judgement is that ultimate prices may be somewhere between these two. Current high $150s prices could drop to the very low $150s by late summer and recover to the mid-$150s by the end of the year, with annual prices near last year’s $155.

One thing seems certain, explains Chris Hurt in his May 4th article on the farmdocdaily website 2014 was an extraordinary year for the animal industries. So comparing this year’s prices to last year’s prices may bring inherent dangers. The beef industry, he says, is the only one which will not increase production this year and therefore has a reasonable chance of seeing annual price averages near 2014 levels.