U.S. beef production in 2024 will drop eight percent to 24.7 billion pounds amid tighter supplies of cattle. A USDA report says aggregate domestic beef disappearance will fall more than seven percent to 52.8 pounds per capita on a retail-equivalent basis. That’s the lowest level since record-keeping started in 1970. The declining output will push cattle prices to new highs in 2024.
A “core portion” of the beef herd is still seeing drought conditions in the Southern Plains, despite improving conditions. That resulted in a shortage of hay. Inventories on May 1 dropped 13 percent year-over-year to the lowest point in a decade. Despite recent rains, for some producers, the very-low hay supplies may not offset poor pastures to sustain herds this summer and allow producers to retain breeding stock,” USDA says. “As a result, culling continues at a relatively high rate.” On a positive note, feed prices will likely decline.