El Niño has been a big disappointment. California water officials say that without a “March miracle,” most drought restrictions will continue this summer.

Sure, El Niño has provided more snow in the mountains this winter, but it’s also created a stubborn high-pressure system that continues to block storms from reaching southern California. National Weather Service meteorologist David Sweet says southern California has only received about five inches of rain since Oct. 1, which is about half the normal total.

However, the high-pressure ridge is diverting storms toward the Sierra Nevada, which is seeing its highest snowpack in years. The U.S. Drought Monitor keeps California in the “extreme” and “exceptional” categories, and reveals growing regions of “abnormally” dry conditions in central Texas and throughout much of the West.


Changes in the Meat Case

Record high prices for cattle and beef the past few years had a significant impact on the retail meat case. That’s the findings of the National Meat Case Study just completed by Sealed Air Corp.

The study found that the percentage of beef packages and the percentage of beef pounds declined in both supermarkets and club food stores from 2010 to 2015. Beef dropped from 25% of all meat packages at supermarkets in 2010 to 22% in 2015. A similar trend occurred in pounds of beef on display as a percentage of all meat, dropping from 21% to 17%. At club stores, the drop was even greater, where beef packages and beef pounds fell 8% from 2010 to 2015.


Checkoff Battle

A Jefferson City, Mo., judge declined to issue a temporary restraining order that would have stopped Missouri cattlemen from voting on a checkoff increase in April.

The suit was filed by the Missouri Rural Crisis Center seeking to stop the process, a move checkoff supporters anticipated.

While the judge refused to issue a restraining order, a hearing is scheduled for March 21 in Cole County court that will further delve into the mechanics of completing the election. The Missouri rural Crisis Center says the voter registration process disenfranchises some cattle producers, and the voting lacks transparency and accountability. Hogwash, claims the Missouri Farm Bureau. “It’s unfortunate the Missouri Rural Crisis Center seeks to prevent cattle farmers who want to invest in the state’s cattle industry from having the opportunity to do so,” says MFB president Blake Hurst.


Feeding Margins Improve 30%

Last week’s $2 per cwt rally in cash fed cattle prices helped feedyard closeouts improve nearly $100 per head. Losses, however, remain at $224 per head, according to the Sterling Beef Profit Tracker. USDA’s 5-area direct cash price was $133.93 per cwt.