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Summer slowdown looms for beef market

Changes in beef prices and processing volumes noted


During the summer's peak, the beef market faces its typical seasonal challenges, according to Jeff Swenson, DATCP Livestock and Meat Specialist.

Recently, the fed cattle market showed a decrease, with limited trades initially, but prices stabilized and even increased in some late transactions. However, these changes were not captured in the USDA's weekly report due to timing.

The processing volumes have also seen a reduction. Compared to the same time last year, the estimated weekly harvest was down by 42,000 heads, anticipating a further decrease influenced by the July 4th holiday.

The market's structure last week included a decreased percentage of cows and a steady percentage of heifers compared to previous figures, supporting a strong market cutout value, which slightly increased from the prior week.

Amid these market conditions, the USDA's acreage report has brought some optimism, particularly for cattle feeders. The report showed a higher than expected corn acreage, which might lead to more favorable feed prices if weather conditions remain conducive.

The anticipation of more affordable feed costs has already positively affected feeder cattle prices, as seen in their rise at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.

Looking ahead, the market’s focus will be on how beef retailers respond after the holiday, which will further indicate the direction of beef market trends for the remainder of the summer.

This period will test the resilience and adaptability of the beef industry as it continues to manage seasonal and economic variables.

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