February 29, 2024

Cattle market prices are currently at their highest levels in a decade, which is great news for those who have been able to maintain their herds. However, it’s a missed opportunity for those who haven’t. The prices for steers, calves, and more have shown a significant improvement over the last year. James Mitchell, an extension economist, pointed out that those with access to good grazing and forage have benefited the most from the high prices. However, drought conditions have impacted a significant portion of the United States, leading to a shrinking beef cow availability and tightening supplies, resulting in higher prices. The U.S. beef cattle inventory is currently at its lowest since 1962, and Mitchell expects the forthcoming report to show a fourth consecutive year of contracting cattle supply. Consumer resiliency will ultimately give way to more competitive pricing for other animal proteins, such as poultry, pork, and fish. Rebuilding the country’s beef cattle inventory is a multi-year process, which won’t begin until drought conditions improve. Additionally, higher interest rates mean that it will be more expensive to expand herds, leading to more careful consideration in herd-expansion decisions.

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