Economic Indicators: Eroding margins hurt all sectors

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The ongoing struggle with heavy losses for both feedyards and packers has trickled down into all beef-industry segments. Despite tight supplies of stocker and feeder cattle, average prices for both yearlings and grass cattle declined during February as feedyards sought to lower costs. Buyers for grazing programs were reluctant to buy cattle in the face of a lengthening drought, though two major snowstorms brought moisture to the Central Plains in late February. Grain and feed prices held steady last month, and the steer-corn ratio was nearly unchanged. Pork and poultry lost a little of their competitive advantage against beef as their production increased at the same time retail prices were climbing slightly higher.

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