In the last few years, the cattle market has been plagued with issues and events that have caused relatively low and volatile prices. NDSU Extension Livestock Marketing Economist Tim Petry says the cattle market has made an excellent comeback. “The last three years have been a challenge for the cattle market for sure. COVID-19 has made the top of the list along with the Tyson plant fire and the drought, but I think there are better times ahead. We reduced the cow herd in 2019, 2020, and now did it again in 2021, but after reducing the herd, beef cow slaughter has gone up. Now we’re to the point where beef production is going to go down. We’ve got fewer calves to sell and even at the feedlot level, we’ll have fewer. So that’s certainly supportive to prices”. Petry looks to 2022 and says the biggest challenges include getting pastures back in shape. “The number one thing for us was the drought that he had last year. Hopefully that was a one-year event. So, our biggest challenge is to get the pastures back into shape and get green grass. This year we had a very-near record corn crop, and yet corn prices were higher with strong demand. We need a good corn crop again to support feeder cattle prices”. Petry says he thinks export demand will stay high through next year after a record high in 2021. “We’ve had the best beef demand that we’ve had for a number of years. Japan is always a good customer and South Korea has been increasing for a number of years. Canada and Mexico have always been good customers with their proximity. The big unknown one is China. Prior to 2019, we shipped hardly any beef t China. Last year with phase one, they came on like gangbusters and went up to our third best customer above Canada and Mexico. A big question is can we maintain that China demand, but I think we’ll do very well on exports again”.
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