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Canadian, Mexicanc cattle imports decrease in 2015 from previous years

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

In their Jan. 6 report, CME Group noted that historic trends show the U.S. importing 1 million head of cattle from both Mexico and Canada, but economics conditions and available feed resources influence significant year-to-year variations.

“Trends in U.S. imports can change as national herd sizes grow or contract,” CME Group commented.

Weekly data on imports is compiled by USDA agencies, and final numbers are reported by the Department of Commerce, and data on imports analyzed by CME Group for the report included 51 weeks, as the last week of the year was not yet available.

Classes of cattle

Feeder cattle imported from Mexico differ from those imported from Canada relative to where they are placed.

“Feeder cattle, typically steers and spayed heifers, headed to grasslands and/or feedlots are imported from Mexico through specialized facilities where their documents are closely scrutinized by USDA staff and each individual animal is inspected by a USDA veterinarian,” CME Group explained.

Canadian imports fall into three groups – feeder-weight steers and heifers; slaughter-weight steers and heifers from feedlots to be harvested in U.S. packing plants; and cull cows and bulls for slaughter.

“Of course, any animals slaughtered in U.S. plants are inspected under the jurisdiction of USDA employees,” they added.


CME Group commented, “Imports from Mexico in 2015 were above 2014’s, driven by high U.S. cattle prices and assisted by the dollar/peso exchange rate.”

The total, calculated from the weekly data, was 1.31 million head, hitting a year-over-year increase of 78,000 head, or 4.3 percent.

From Canada, imports dropped significantly to 803,000 head. The decrease comes in at 33 percent, or 392,000 head, below last year.

“All categories of cattle imported from Canada were below 2014’s,” CME Group said. “Feeder cattle fell by 34 percent, slaughter steers by 45 percent and cull cows and bulls declined by 16 percent.”

“At times in 2015, imports were bolstered by drought in western Canada,” they added.

Recent data

Over the last 12 weeks of reported data, CME Group further mentioned that cattle imports have shown important trends.

“First, cattle imports from Mexico have posted significant year-over-year declines,” they explained. “Compared to 2014, imports from Mexico during that 12-week period in late 2015 were down 21 percent, or nearly 78,000 head.”

Canadian imports were down 55 percent from 2014 numbers over the same 12-week period.

“For the fourth quarter of 2015, year-over-year, feeder cattle imports were off 83 percent, slaughter steers and heifers dropped 46 percent and cull cows and bulls declined 22 percent,” CME Group noted.

With declines of nearly 350,000 head in 2015 from the previous year, CME Group noted that the trend could continue into the next year.

“We think year-over-year U.S. cattle import declines could persist into 2015,” they said. “In recent years, through 2015, national cowherds were not growing in either Mexico or Canada. Lower cattle prices in the U.S. may also deter flows.”

Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at

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