Cattle Markets Brutal, Conditions Will Improve


By Pat Lampert

Brutal. That sums up cattle markets since COVID-19 began dominating the nation.

Roller coaster volatility rules markets. The first quarter of 2020 averaged 74 percent in negotiated transactions on a weekly basis compared to 59 percent the year before.

Cattlemen fled to cash sales as a sense of panic gripped the country.

As consumers began working from home and restaurants were forced to close, beef demand shifted from food service to grocers. But producer prices continued to fall.

Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley began questioning whether giant meatpacking companies are using the public health pandemic  against U.S. cattle producers, who have seen prices for their beef fall 20 percent or more, even as demand has surged.

145 lawmakers from both chambers of Congress agree cattlemen should receive our cut of the USDA $9.5 billion in funding of what is earmarked for harm from COVID-19.

Of course, the economy could see a strong recovery once we move through the crest of the pandemic, but we just don’t know how consumer spending for beef could shake out.

A very big concern is processing plant shutdowns because of employees contracting COVID-19. Our cattle marketers have been dealing with rerouting animals in certain parts of the country, and things may get worse before we see improvement.

Internationally, we see demand improving for U.S. beef, especially since cases of COVID-19 continue to decrease in China.

National Farmers and Nexus is keeping pretty current in wake of the ever-changing COVID-19 situation by moving animals to alternate processing plants. Call your marketing representative for the latest information.

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