Cattle prices have disappointed ranchers and feedyard operators since mid-winter, leaving the industry struggling with constant losses. Packers have seen the same red ink on their ledgers. Increasing spring moisture in the Midwest and portions of the High Plains improved grazing and grain production prospects for the season, and feed costs declined significantly during April, leading to a late-month rally in cattle prices. The steer-corn ratio improved 1.19 for the month. Monthly average prices for both yearlings and grass cattle, however, declined for the third consecutive month. Pork and poultry production tapered off during April, providing some improvement to beef’s competitive position. Demand for beef, however, remained sluggish as damp, cool weather delayed the start of the spring grilling season.

Economic Indicators: Production markets costs show improvement