Higher beef prices and recent losses in the corn market have beef packers and feedlot operators eyeing better profit margins. If weather cooperates this growing season, a recent USDA report shows 97.3 million acres of corn are expected to be planted soon. That amount is the largest planted acreage for corn since 1936. Our Monday Market Sentiment panel of experts are optimistic the favorable conditions will improve the cash cattle market this week, forecasting an increase of 68 cents to $128.40 per cwt.

The Monday Market Sentiment is a forecast of the upcoming weekly cash trade (5-Area weighted average price) prices reported by the USDA. Last week prices improved, ending a streak of three weeks of consecutive losses with the market moving $3.03 in that time. The cash market gained $2.97 per cwt this week averaging $127.72 per cwt.

Low cattle supplies will continue to help beef prices even if demand wavers. Choice beef gained almost 1.5 cents Monday which places more confidence in the cash and wholesale markets. Wholesale beef is approaching $200, which University of Missouri Extension economist Ron Plain says the industry needs to generate profits, but consumers domestically and abroad may lose interest at that price point.

Each week the Cattle Trader Center, on behalf of Vance Publishing, awards a $100 gift certificate from Cabela's to the industry leader whose forecast comes closest to the 5-Area cash trade number reported by the USDA. The most recent winner was Steve Landgraf, Lakin Feedyard.

Join our team of industry professionals to predict this week's cash trade. Click here for contest rules. Click here to register.