CattleFax market analysts gave their projections for the coming year at the Cattle Industry Convention Friday. Art Douglas - Creighton University Professor Emeritus - says there is a chance some regions of the country will see more normal precipitation patterns return in the coming spring and summer growing season. That sounds promising - especially since the multi-year drought has affected more than 70-percent of the cattle industry. If more normal precipitation does return - analysts predict U.S. farmers will plant a record number of corn and soybean acres. CattleFax Grain Market Analyst Chad Spearman says that would lead to lower feed grain prices - with relief on the supply side and ultimately price relief in the second-half of the year. More moisture would also mitigate hay prices after harvest begins in the summer - according to Spearman.
Analyst Mike Murphy says a possible economic slowdown could put pressure on beef prices and demand among consumers - even though input costs may provide relief. Murphy projects net income will be flat in the U.S. with incomes struggling to keep up with inflation - but he also predicts beef exports will continue to provide support for prices. He says an increase in shipments to Japan should increase exports - and imports will also increase substantially due to tighter supplies in the U.S. when there’s strong demand for 90-percent lean trim. All in all - CattleFax Senior Analyst Kevin Good predicts beef production in the U.S. will fall with per-capita supply moving to 2.2-percent. Good says the decrease will be partially offset by increasing carcass weights. He also expects a shift in leverage with the loss of U.S. packing capacity. As a result - Good says feedlots will get a smaller percentage of the wholesale value of beef. CattleFax expects prices to average 126-dollars, yearling prices at 155-dollars and calf prices at 175-dollars.