USDA Agricultural Marketing Service data show that the rib and loin primal cuts of beef provided the most support to the overall cutout in December.
The brisket was next, followed by the chuck and the round. The short plate and flank rounded out the bottom.
That was no real surprise to most seasoned cattle or beef traders, but what was unusual was that this year the choice rib held more wholesale value than branded rib products. This was a change from December 2017.
Additionally, prime ribs did not command the same price premium it did a year earlier. This likely was because of increased beef production and greater availability.
MISSING MARKET DATA AND REPORTS
This report is from the Livestock Marketing Information Center. It explains the reports that are being delayed by the federal government shutdown as well as any.
The partial Federal government shutdown ticked off its second week Friday. Several significant sources of market information are not available.
USDA agencies such as ERS, NASS, WAOB and FAS are closed and have not released reports or data as scheduled. USDA’s AMS market news information is still being reported, which has not always been the case in past shutdowns.
AMS employees are now deemed essential, so the agency can still collect and disseminate market price data and information.
Already, several NASS reports were not released as scheduled. Poultry Slaughter, Agricultural Prices, Broiler Hatchery, and Dairy Products are among the essential livestock reports that have not been released.
The Foreign Agriculture Service was scheduled to release November trade data on Tuesday, and the next World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report is scheduled for Friday, but that data, too, will not be available if the shutdown continues.
The most extended government shutdown occurred in 1995 to 1996 and lasted three weeks. In the past, some data has been able to be recovered and released at a later date.
However, in the cases where the data is done by survey, as with many of the USDA NASS reports, that data is usually not recoverable because the survey was not sent or collected.
Actual slaughter data has been among the most missed weekly market data. This data is compiled by NASS but is released by AMS. It provides valuable information on weights, production and the number of head slaughtered.
The next couple of weeks hold several vital reports that could affect the tone of the entire year. For example, the annual Cattle Inventory report is scheduled to be published at the end of this month. This report provides one of only two point estimates in the size of the beef herd, and the number of replacement animals producers are holding.
The monthly Cattle on Feed report also is at risk. Without this type of information, cattle markets will be flying blind.
CATTLE, BEEF RECAP
Cash cattle traded last week at $122 to $123 per cwt on a live basis in the Plains, steady to down $1 from the previous week. Dressed-basis trades were reported at $194 to $195, also steady to down $1.
The USDA choice cutout Tuesday was down $0.30 per cwt at $213.98, while select was down $0.95 at $207.26. The choice/select spread widened to $6.72 from $6.07 with 149 loads of fabricated product sold into the spot market.
The CME Feeder Cattle index for the seven days ended Monday, was $145.63 per cwt, down $0.43. This compares with Tuesday’s Jan settlement of $147.62, up $1.62.