July 30, 2015

U.S. Cattle Herd Expansion Underway, According to USDA

cattleThe Semi Annual Cattle Inventory Survey was released by USDA on Friday, and for those who still questioned whether the U.S. Cow herd is growing, they got some answers. USDA Livestock Analyst Shayle Shagam:

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Importantly, note industry analysts, the rate of heifer retention is high. In fact, the number of heifers placed into feedlots in relation to the number of steers is the lowest on record:

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In the Cattle on Feed report, which is issued separately from the semi annual inventory numbers, The slow pace of marketing in June finally caught up:

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Shagam noted the expansion is just getting started and with big margins over the past few years and the elimination of drought in the Plains states, he expects herd expansion will only increase from here.


Avian Flu Vaccine Not A Magic Bullet

TurkeysSince December 8th of last year, Avian Influenza in the United States has resulted in the deaths of more than 48 million chickens and turkeys.  Hot weather has stopped the virus for the moment, but experts say that could change when the fall migration season starts and wild birds once again fly over the nations’ midsection.  At the moment:


That’s Dr. David Swain with USDA’s Agricultural Research Service Southeastern Poultry Lab.  Dr. Swain announced during a Senate Ag Committee hearing that prospects for a vaccine are improving:

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So far, that vaccine has tested well.  USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack telling the House Ag Committee that so far, the efficacy rate is nearing 100% in chickens and they are hopeful for similar results in turkeys. It sounds hopeful, but experts caution, an effective vaccine is nice to have, but it’s not a magic bullet

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Indonesia, Viet Nam, and China have all utilized avian flu vaccines, but says Dr Swain:

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The avian flu vaccine would work similar to a human flu vaccine, meaning that even if all birds in a flock are vaccinated, one could still get the disease.  Experts say that means they would all still have to be euthanized, even though they had already been vaccinated.  Additionally, there are other consequences to consider.  Meetings with trade officials in other countries say they may look unfavorably on meat from vaccinated birds.  USDA Chief veterinarian John Clifford:

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That means:

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Which will also take money to make, bottle and administer and may not even prevent the producer from having to eradicate their flock.  In short, officials say they are making steps but a solution to the problem is still a long ways off.


Improved Weather Stabilizes Crop Conditions In U.S.

Grain markets have taken a break from the recent run higher this week and analysts say it’s because of improved weather. It looks like the trend of crop friendly conditions will continue, according to USDA meteorologist Brad Rippey:

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The break in the weather may be temporary, Rippey says to expect changes:

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USDA Crop Conditions data on Monday showed unchanged ratings for both corn and soybeans at 69% and 62% good to excellent respectively.  Several private firms noted that their individual yield models increased slightly as the seasonal tendency is for corn conditions to decline in July.  Hard Red Spring conditions fell by 1%, as expected.

Weather is developing into an issue for the Canadian wheat crop. On Tuesday, Ag Canada projected this year’s wheat crop at 27.1 million metric tons, down a whopping 2.5 million tons from the month before. The agency cited dry conditions in the prairie provinces as the primary motive for the decline, also adding that they were open to further reductions if the weather doesn’t change. Canola production was projected at 14.1 million metric tons, down 8.1 percent on the year. Bruce Burnett, a trader with Winnipeg based CWB noted that their private projections are closer to 24 mmt on wheat and 12.1 mmt of canola.