It’s been said that history is written by the winners. So far, it appears COVID-19 wields the pen.
Cash prices for fed cattle continue on a volatile and downward trendline as COVID-19 continues to affect virtually every part of the U.S. economy. It was inevitable that packing plants would eventually feel the pinch as workers become infected with the virus.
How will plant shutdowns affect the beef marketing chain? At this point, we can only guess. As has been said many times before and will continue to be repeated often, we are in unchartered territory and history is being written and rewritten daily.
The Five Area formula sales volume totaled 237,395 head for the week ending April 11, compared with about 256,000 the previous week. The Five Area total cash steer and heifer volume was 20,702 head, compared to about 25,000 head the previous week.
Nationally reported forward contract cattle harvest was about 34,000 head for the week. The packers have 235,000 head for April. National cash sales for the week included 7,047 head of 15- to 30-day delivery along with 10,348 from the previous week, but the packers are probably still using quite a bit of the previous three weeks of big numbers yet.
The Five Area weekly weighted average cash steer price was $105 per cwt, $6.08 lower compared with the previous week. Last year the same week it was $126.19, about $1 higher than the prior week.
The weighted average cash dressed steer price was $168 per cwt, which was $8.93 lower. The Five Area weighted average formula price was $185.98, 36 cents lower.
The estimated weekly total federally inspected cattle harvest for the week ending April 11 was 536,000 head, which compares with 638,000 head the same week last year.
The latest average national steer carcass weight for the week ending March 28 was 891 pounds, 7 pounds lower than the previous week and compared with 865 pounds the same week last year which was 1 pound lower than the previous week last year.
The Choice-Select spread was $15.60 on Friday, April 11, compared with $14.60 the previous week and a $7.73 spread last year.