This month’s World Agricultural Supply and Demand estimates from USDA’s Economic Research Service indicate 2012 U.S. cattle supplies will decline from last year, with the fed-steer price range higher than last year’s during every quarter. The agency projects U.S. corn supplies increasing this year and adjust prices downward somewhat.

The report projects 2012 beef production at just under 25 billion pounds, compared with 26.2 billion for 2011 and 26.3 billion for 2010. For 2012 fed-cattle prices, the report estimates a first-quarter range from $119 to $123 per hundredweight, $119 to $127 for the second quarter, $$120 to $130 for quarter three and $122 to $132 for the fourth quarter. For the annual average, the report projects a price range from $120 to $128 per hundredweight, up from an estimated annual average of $114.73 for 2011.

Other key points in the report include:

  • 2012 total red meat and poultry production is raised from last month, largely reflecting increased pork production.
  • Beef production is little changed from last month with some adjustments to quarterly totals.  
  • USDA will release its Cattle report on January 27, providing an indication of producer intentions for heifer retention in 2012 and feeder calf availability.
  • Poultry production forecasts are unchanged.
  • Trade forecasts for beef, pork, broilers, and turkeys are unchanged for 2012.
  • Cattle prices for 2012 are unchanged from last month.
  • U.S. feed grain supplies for 2011/12 are projected higher as an increase in estimated corn production more than offsets a reduction for sorghum.
  • Corn production is estimated 48 million bushels higher with a 0.5-bushel-per-acre increase in yield and a 45,000-acre increase in harvested area.
  • Sorghum production is lowered 32 million bushels with yields estimated 0.9 bushels per acre lower and harvested area reduced 503,000 acres.
  • Corn use for 2011/12 is raised with higher exports. Exports are projected 50 million bushels higher reflecting the strong pace of sales to date and reduced prospects for Argentina.
  • Ending stocks are projected 2 million bushels lower at 846 million bushels.
  • The 2011/12 season average farm price for corn is lowered 20 cents per bushel on each end of the range to $5.70 to $6.70 per bushel.

The full report is available online from USDA/ERS.