Livestock Marketing Information Center

Current Situation and Analysis
Last Updated: 5/15/2018
STRONG QUARTERLY RED MEAT & TURKEY EXPORTS

U.S. exports in the first quarter of 2018 started off the year at a rapid pace. Lamb led the charge and was up 68% from the first quarter of 2017, driven by increased buying from Mexico. Turkey exports had the second strongest first quarter ever, rising 15% year-over-year.  Mexico also was the major turkey buyer, increasing purchases by 21% or 18 million pounds compared to 2017’s. U.S. beef exports were up 12% compared to a year ago, followed by pork up 6%.  Broiler exported tonnage was even with last year’s.


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NATIONALLY, PASTURE AND RANGE BEGIN THE YEAR STRUGGLING

          Pasture and range conditions opened this season with the U.S. having 20% rated as being in poor and very poor condition. That was the worst first week of the season since 2014. Western states opened the season with 32% in poor and very poor conditions, which was the highest percentage of all the regions. The Great Plains and Southern Plains report 22% and 27% of pastures in poor and very poor conditions. In the Corn Belt and the Northeast, conditions were 10% to 20% poor and very poor. The Southeast was the only region that was better off than a year ago.


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U.S. DAIRY HERD SHRINKS IN MARCH; FIRST MARCH DECLINE SINCE 2009

            The dairy cow herd declined by 2,000 head in March according to USDA-NASS, the first February-to-March decline since 2009. Milk prices at the farm dropped by $2.00 per cwt. from the last quarter of 2017 to the first quarter of 2018, and Class III milk prices (cheese grade milk) fell by $2.50. Those were the lowest milk prices since the spring quarter of 2016. In 2009, farm milk prices dropped $4.50 from the last quarter of 2008 to the following quarter and didn’t begin to recover until the last quarter of 2009.


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