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The Weekly News Source for Wyoming's Ranchers, Farmers and AgriBusiness Community

It’s Thanksgiving

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

            As we get closer to Thanksgiving, we need to pause and realize all we have to give thanks for. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that thankfulness is indeed a virtue. We’re aware it hasn’t been the best of years, considering COVID-19 and drought, but I’ll bet if we take a minute or two, we can come up with more positives than negatives – and if we can’t, we’ll just make something up. We all need to be positive.

            I think it would be great to start being an optimist by declaring to start a new diet on Thanksgiving morning. A couple days later, tell everyone, “This diet is just not working,” and go on with life.

            On the agriculture front, prices for crops and livestock are strong with livestock, sheep and lamb prices holding strong – especially lambs. For cattle prices, the middle two weeks of November are usually the time auction barns have the biggest runs. 

Feeder calves are running higher, something that usually doesn’t happen often at this time of year. At some barns, calves were up some eight dollars from last week. For most of the Midwest, feeder calves have been higher, week on week, since early October. 

            The surprise is cull cows. Their prices usually drop this time of the year with high numbers of cows on the market, but this year, they are holding quite strong. The cull cow market is supported by a strong lean trimming market, despite the increased cull beef supplies. In drought areas, cull cow numbers are a little down for this time of year. 

            The fed cattle market is up two dollars this past week, and has risen eight dollars over the last three weeks. Some think higher prices are still possible into the new year. 

The current additional cash market upside also provides more room for live cattle futures to trend higher, especially for the late winter and spring contracts. Weekly steer and heifer slaughter numbers have been exceptionally strong in recent weeks. Weekly cattle slaughter has been around 655,540 head.

While U.S. beef exports to Canada are down and imports to the U.S. are up, it is just the opposite with Mexico where U.S. beef exports were up 15 percent in September. U.S. beef exports have been strong in China and other countries in eastern Asia. American’s strong, superior beef genetics are guaranteeing Prime and high Choice beef – beef these countries’ consumers want. 

Hopefully some good will come out of Congress with the cattle market bill to create a cattle contract library. I’ve always said the packers are doing what they are doing because they can. Hopefully what the packers can do in the future will help the producer.

Currently we have high numbers of cattle and low prices to the producers, and this could change in the next year or so. If the demand stays high – both nationally and around the world – for American beef, the packers will have to pay more for cattle and hopefully higher prices will reach the feeders and producers.

Our families and friends are what we are most thankful for. Those are what we treasure. Remember, it is our families and good friends who are those rare people – the kind of people who ask how we are and wait to hear our answer.

Have a happy Thanksgiving!

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