Livestock Marketing Information Center

Current Situation and Analysis
Last Updated: 1/18/2019
HAM VALUES STRUGGLE DUE TO LARGER SUPPLY AND TRADE ISSUES

Wholesale ham prices started out the year at 45 cents per pound, basis 23-27# Trimmed Selected Hams quoted by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS). This is the lowest ham price for the first week of the year since 2009. The last time weekly ham prices were this low was early October 2016.  Seasonally, ham prices usually move higher as January progresses, then tend to be about unchanged for the balance of the quarter. Last year was unusual as priced trended lower after late January. 


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BRED COW VALUES FINISH 2018 DOWN FROM PRIOR YEAR

Bred cow prices at auctions during the last quarter of 2018 were down 10-20% from a year earlier in key cattle production regions. USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) reported average prices in Georgia auctions for 1200-1300# cows bred 4-6 months earlier at $912.30 per head in December versus an average price in December 2017 of $1119.89, a 19% decline. The same comparison in Montana for mid-aged 1200-1300# bred cows showed a 6% price decline in December compared to a year earlier.


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CATTLE ON FEED PRE-REPORT ESTIMATES

The partial government shutdown has continued and is now holding the record for the longest in U.S. history. Monthly cattle on feed numbers were scheduled to be released by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service on January 25, 2019.  That survey-based report would reflect December feedlot marketings and placements (lots with a capacity of 1,000 head or more). It is unlikely the NASS Cattle on Feed publication will be released even if the government opens next week. Those reports take time to survey, collect, compile and release and the backlog is mounting.


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