Monday, March 15, 2010

Cattle Prices Looking Up

Steve Ritter photo
Caldwell Stock Yard Busy, Sellers Happy

Caldwell--Go to the Caldwell Auction and you see a jolly bunch of cowboys enjoying free roast beef sandwiches, happily buying and selling cattle. Its because prices for live cattle have crept up since early November, hitting their highest point in 15 months last week. Prices for feeder cattle under 700 pounds range from $102 to $131 per hundredweight.

Despite the trend, Grocery store prices for beef are lagging behind, but still steadily increasing.Industry insiders say shoppers have turned to cheaper protein sources as the economy soured, but are now buying beef again. Foreign markets are improving. At the same time, there are also fewer cattle being prepared for slaughter, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The USDA reported last week that the number of cattle in feedlots fell to a seven-year low in January.

“Beef imports are stronger,” said Wallace Butler of the Idaho Farm Bureau, He says the key it that the total cattle inventory is down by almost a million head.

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