A Long Month
By Dennis Sun
The month of August has been a long one for agriculture, especially for those in drought areas where calves and yearlings are being weaned and shipped out for sale or to a backgrounding lot.
There have been numerous positives during the long month though.
One of these is the Wyoming Stock Growers Association’s 2020 Wyoming Cattle Industry Convention and Trade Show. The theme for this year’s meeting was Providing Stability in a Time of Crisis. It proved to be well worth the time to attend the meetings and hear from the speakers.
Along with the drought, there are some big issues facing agriculture. Of course, some of these issues are the pandemic and the upcoming general election. Both are at risk to harm us, our families and our businesses.
As always, there are still some positives.
The first is that our readers will have received five issues of the Roundup in August to keep up on the latest agriculture news.
A big positive this month was that we actually had the Wyoming State Fair. As many know, it was uncertain if anything more than 4-H and FFA shows would happen. But, it did. There was a complete state fair with a carnival, events, rodeo, live music, displays, businesses, agencies and colleges, all in attendance and proving what they are about.
The most important part was people showed up to the events and visited with everyone. The Roundup had our tent with 18 booths. We also held the Wyoming Ag Hall of Fame Picnic. Both were a success.
Wyoming State Fair management did a great job, and we can’t wait until next year to see even more new improvements. Hats off to them all.
In regards to meat, we’ve heard good news. Despite the pandemic, meat sales were up. This was validated by a study conducted by the Industrial Research Institute, stating in the first week in August, there were double-digit gains in volume and dollar sales for retail meat departments.
We know the government stimulus checks and rising employment numbers were a boost to these increased numbers. We also realize with higher meat prices, especially beef, the packers are processing as much meat as they can.
The latest CattleFax update says, “The U.S. beef cowherd was likely facing cyclical contraction in 2020, regardless of any assistance from COVID-19 or Mother Nature. Cow/calf profit margins have been less than $100 per head on average over the last two years, and the 2019 plant fire already had cattle producers on edge. Total cattle supplies will continue to shrink in 2021 and 2022 due to recent herd contraction. A more widespread drought would lean more heavily on that trend.”
In the short term, they said, “COVID-19 led to an 11 percent decline in calf prices, on average, for nine weeks from late March to early May. This volatility weighs on herd decisions, but the price outlook for fall-weaned calves is improving. Third-quarter calf prices are averaging two percent below year ago levels, and last week’s market was six percent higher than 2019. The trend is steady to higher as the fall run approaches.”
So the outlook is not all bleak, there are some positives. Cooler temperatures are forecasted.