Imports Pull U.S. Beef Market Down

   International trade continues to be a drag on the U.S. beef market as the strong dollar and high U.S. beef prices make the U.S. an attractive market to sell into, but a less appealing place to buy from.
   U.S. beef imports totaled 288 million pounds during July. That was up 9.7 percent compared to a year ago. Beef imports have been above the year-ago level for 17 months in a row.
   U.S. beef exports totaled 200 million pounds during July. That was down 12.7 percent compared to a year ago. Beef exports have been below the year-ago level for 10 months in a row.
   Beef exports equaled 9.8 percent of U.S. production in July. Beef imports equaled 14.1 percent of production.
   Fed cattle prices this week were lower on heavy volume. Through Thursday, the 5-area average price for slaughter steers sold on a live weight basis was $141.20/cwt, down $2.20 from last week's average and down $18.02 from a year ago. The 5 area average dressed price this week for steers was $222.12/cwt, down $4.85 for the week and down $27.82 compared to the same week last year.
   This morning the choice boxed beef cutout value was $240.63/cwt, down $3.00 from the previous Friday and down $7.93 from a year ago. The select carcass cutout was $229.15/cwt this morning, down $3.68 from last week and down $8.15 from a year ago.
   Cattle slaughter this week totaled 556,000 head, up 2.0 percent from the week before and up 6.3 percent from the same week last year (which began with Labor Day).
   The average steer dressed weight for the week ending on August 22 was 905 pounds, up 5 pounds from the week before, up 25 pounds compared to the same week last year, above the year-ago level for 62 consecutive weeks, and one pound below the record set last November.
   Feeder cattle prices at Oklahoma City were steady to $2 higher this week. Prices for medium and large frame #1 steers by weight group were: 400-450# $295-$302.50, 450-500# $240-$256, 500-550# $232-$242.50, 550-600# $232-$236.50, 600-650# $215-$233, 650-700# $210-$219.50, 700-750# $198-$218.50, 750-800# $196-$210.25, 800-900# $193-$207 and 900-1000#, $193.50-$204.25/cwt.
   Cattle futures were lower this week. The October live cattle futures contract settled at $140.47/cwt today, down $3.505 for the week. December fed cattle settled at $142.77/cwt, down $3.28 from the previous week. February fed cattle settled at $142.70/cwt. September feeder cattle ended the week at $201.35/cwt, down $1.03 from seven days earlier. The October feeder cattle contract lost $3.22 to close at $195.70/cwt.
   USDA’s pasture condition report says that 18 percent of pasture acres were in poor or very poor condition on August 30. That is 2 points higher than the week before, but 2 points lower than a year ago. ∆
   DR. RON PLAIN AND DR. SCOTT BROWN: Agricultural Economists, University of Missouri
MidAmerica Farm Publications, Inc
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