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U.S. Cattle Market Should Remain Strong, Volatile

Article-U.S. Cattle Market Should Remain Strong, Volatile

Factors to watch for in the U.S. beef industry including the U.S. economy, consumer confidence and government regulations.

The U.S. cattle market should remain relatively strong for 2013 and average 4-8% higher than in 2012, according to Walt Prevatt, Auburn University Extension economist.

“As should be expected, the 2013 cattle market has the potential for some big price swings,” says Prevatt in his annual U.S. beef cattle situation and price outlook.

Abrupt changes in one of several factors could add a lot of volatility to cattle market prices, he says. “Cattle farmers will need to search for ways to lower their unit cost of production and ways to enhance market prices in order to achieve profitability during 2013,” he says.

Factors to watch next year, says Prevatt, include the current weak U.S. economy, high levels of unemployment, lack of consumer confidence, political gridlock and chaos at all levels of government, and other issues.

“There is little wonder why future economic uncertainty is fresh in the minds of many
U.S. citizens,” he says. “The decisions made on these issues are believed to have an overwhelming effect on business and consumer spending and our future prosperity.

Unfortunately, there is not convincing evidence about what the future holds.

“Consumers, at least for right now, are spending less and saving more. Only time will tell if this may be the start of a longer term shift in consumer behavior.”

"U.S. beef demand has felt some challenges the last three years due to high unemployment and tightening consumer grocery budgets," says Prevatt.

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