May 18, 2015

Positive Cattle on Feed and Beef Exports worth celebrating

May is a time for celebration. This time of year finds many of us attending graduations, weddings and BBQs – where great-tasting Nebraska corn-fed beef may be featured. May is also Beef Month and there is a lot of exciting beef news important to us right now.

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Big Beef

Recently, the Cattle on Feed Report came out showing that the number of cattle on feed in Nebraska was up 2 percent from last year. Nebraska feedlots with capacities of 1,000 or more head, contained 2.53 million cattle on feed on April 1, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Placements during March totaled 440,000 head, up 7 percent from 2014. This is the largest number of placements for March since the data series began in 1994. Fed cattle marketings for the month of March totaled 395,000 head, unchanged from last year. Other disappearance during March totaled 15,000 head, unchanged from last year.

On a national level, cattle and calves on feed for slaughter market in the United States for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 10.8 million head on April 1, 2015. The inventory was slightly above April 1, 2014. The inventory included 7.46 million steers and steer calves, up 5 percent from the previous year. This group accounted for 69 percent of the total inventory. Heifers and heifer calves accounted for 3.34 million head, down 10 percent from 2014.

All of these positive increases in cattle number are positive signs of a strong beef and ag economy in Nebraska and in the U.S.

Export Momentum

But we also know that domestic consumption of beef is not what is growing, but exports of our high-quality beef is showing positive momentum. According to the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), an important cooperator of the Nebraska Corn Board, exports of U.S. beef (and pork) gained momentum in March after starting the year slowly.

March beef exports totaled 86,774 mt, down 7 percent from a year ago but a 5 percent increase over February. Export value was $527.3 million, up 2 percent year-over-year but down slightly from February. The March results reflect some degree of relief from the West Coast port congestion that plagued red meat exports in January and February Beef exports add well beyond $300 to the value of each head of cattle annually, but without the USMEF and their excellent staff all over the world working on behalf of farmers and ranchers to build demand for U.S. beef, this figured wouldn’t be nearly so positive.

Let’s continue to celebrate beef this month, and continue on through the summer. Summer is the perfect time to BBQ, so now is as good a time as ever to enjoy some Nebraska corn-fed beef. For recipes, visit the Nebraska Beef Council’s Kitchen or

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