Mexico Boosts Cattle Imports To U.S.

   U.S. beef exports were down 5.3 percent in April compared to a year earlier. Mexico purchased more U.S. beef, but shipments to Hong Kong and Japan were down. For January-April, beef exports were down 0.4 percent.
   U.S. beef imports were down 21.2 percent in April due to a big drop in imports from Australia and New Zealand. During January-April U.S. beef imports were down 12.8 percent.
   Live cattle imports were up 2.9 percent compared to April 2015 with 22.7 percent more Mexican cattle coming north and 13.7 percent fewer Canadian cattle coming south. During the first one-third of 2016 cattle imports were down 8.8 percent.
   Fed cattle prices were higher this week in moderate volume. Through Thursday, the 5-area average price for slaughter steers sold on a live weight basis was $126.81/cwt, up $3.99 from last week’s average and down $28.05 from a year ago. The 5-area dressed steer price averaged $202.87/cwt, up $1.55 from the week before, but down $42.32 from a year ago.
   This morning the choice boxed beef cutout value was $226.98/cwt, up $4.25 from the previous Friday, but down $20.16 from a year ago. The select carcass cutout this morning was $203.72/cwt, up $2.95 from last week, but down $37.58 compared to last year. The choice-select spread today is an incredible $23.26/cwt. Earlier this week, the choice-select price spread exceeded $24/cwt, higher than any time at least since 2003 and perhaps an all-time record.
   This week’s cattle slaughter totaled 591,000 head, up 13.7 percent from last week which was light because of Memorial Day, and up 9.4 percent from a year ago. The average steer dressed weight for the week ending on May 28 was 859 pounds, down 3 pounds from the week before and down 5 pounds from a year ago. This was the fourth consecutive week that steer weights have averaged below the year-ago level and follows 98 consecutive weeks when weights were above the year-ago level.
   Feeder cattle prices at Oklahoma City this week were $3 to $8 higher than two weeks ago. Stocker calf prices were up $2 to $4/cwt. There was no Oklahoma City auction last week because of the Memorial Day holiday. Oklahoma City prices for medium and large frame #1 steers by weight group were: 400-450# $168-$189, 450-500# $179.50-$183, 500-550# $159-$176, 550-600# $152.50-$170.50, 600-650# $153-$159, 650-700# $145-$159, 700-750# $138-$153.25, 750-800# $144.50-$148, 800-900# $132.50-$150.25 and 900-1000# $130-$139.75/cwt.
   The June live cattle futures contract settled at $122.45/cwt today, up 45 cents for the week. August fed cattle settled at $117.35/cwt, down 45 cents from the previous Friday. October ended the week at $116.80/cwt.
   August feeder cattle futures ended the week at $145.55/cwt, down $1.12 from a week earlier. October feeder cattle closed the week down $1.13 at $142.62/cwt. ∆
   DR. RON PLAIN AND DR. SCOTT BROWN: Agricultural Economists, University of Missouri

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