USDA Begins Enhanced Cattle Market Reporting

The USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service this week began enhancing its livestock mandatory reporting for cattle by publishing a new Weekly Fed Cattle Comprehensive Report and revising the National Weekly Direct Slaughter Cattle report.

The cattle industry has seen a significant shift from traditional negotiated transactions to alternative marketing arrangements like formula pricing over the past decades.  The new Weekly Fed Cattle Comprehensive Report seeks to reflect this trend by providing producers, traders and investors a more complete picture of the fed cattle market in one report.

The Weekly Fed Cattle Comprehensive Report combines negotiated, formula net, forward contract net and negotiated grid net purchase information into a single weekly price series that is released on Tuesday.  The report highlights the price differences between beef type and dairy-bred cattle and the price differences between specific purchase types of transactions.

Additional report sections provide the percentage of carcasses grading choice or higher, a quantity percentage breakdown of all purchase types, and a daily head count distribution of formula base purchases.  The Weekly Fed Cattle Comprehensive Report can be found at AMS webpage National Direct Slaughter Cattle Reports.




Also, started Tuesday were changes to section “D: BASIS DISTRIBUTION” of the National Weekly Direct Slaughter Cattle – Prior Week Slaughter and Contract Purchases report were made.

Negotiated cattle delivering beyond 30 days will no longer be represented as forward contracts with a “0.00” basis level, but are to be identified with a blank basis level (as shown in the example below).  This reporting change is in response to industry concerns of differentiating these types of purchases from other transactions.



Delivery Mo./Basis Mo.

Jul ’17/Aug

3,210 head = (blank will denote negotiated cattle del 31+ days)

432 head = 0.00 (cattle with an actual 0 basis)

123 head = +3.00




The new and revised reports could pair nicely with the established National Weekly Direct Slaughter Cattle – Premiums and Discounts report already published by the USDA, market sources said.

The Premiums and Discounts report does just what it says – report the premiums and discounts that were paid for various quality designations of cattle with choice being the touchstone.

For instance, in last week’s report, packer buyers paid an average of $13.39 per cwt more for cattle grading prime than they paid for choice-grading cattle.  This was up $0.14 from the previous week.

However, they paid an average of $30.00 per cwt more for all natural cattle, down $0.08 from the previous week.




Fed cattle sales on the livestock exchange video auction last Wednesday averaged $118.27 per cwt, with trade in the south at $118.25 to $118.50 up $0.25 to $0.50 from last week.  In the North, trade was limited to a few at $118.00, up $0.75 to down $0.75.  Lots with one- to nine-day delivery sold at $118.30, while lots with one- to 17-day delivery sold at $118.00.

Cash cattle trading was reported Thursday at $118.25 to $118.50 per cwt on a live basis, up $1 to down $2.50.  By Friday, prices had moved up to $119 to $120.50, mostly $120, with dressed trade at $189 to $190.

The USDA’s choice cutout Tuesday was up $0.16 per cwt at $207.62, while select was up $1.04 at $198.93.  The choice/select spread narrowed to $8.69 from $9.57 with 81 loads of fabricated product sold into the spot market.

The CME Feeder Cattle index for the seven days ended Monday was $151.57 per cwt, down $0.31.  This compares with Tuesday’s Aug settlement at $146.52, down $1.92.