Cow liquidation continues, even as COVID-19 alters harvest patterns
Cow-calf operations in 2018 and 2019 had bleak years. The Livestock Marketing Information Center estimated that 2019 was the worst returns to cow-calf operations since 1996. Two years of negative returns, one of which was the worst in the last 24 years, the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, and the future of beef demand has likely left producers with an unclear path forward.
So, could COVID-19 be masking the fundamental liquidation phase happening in cow-calf country? A quick look at total cow harvest (beef and dairy type) suggests year-to-date figures are even with a year ago even after several weeks of dampened harvest levels. However, every week in 2020 has been above the five-year average by at least 5%. The highest week was 20% over the five-year average for the same week, according to the Daily Livestock Report.
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