Higher average cash cattle prices helped pull feedyard profit margins to modest levels during March, but other indicators keep the industry outlook in a cautionary stage. Rising production costs and a soft retail beef market continue to worry feedyards moving forward, and many believe the market’s spring highs may have been established early. Mild winter weather boosted cattle performance in both backgrounding and feedlot operations. Long-running negative packer margins raise concerns throughout the industry, and consumer fears over “pink slime” may have hurt short-term beef demand. Pork and broiler production remains large, and higher retail beef prices could see consumer resistance, especially if gasoline prices keep climbing. The Sterling Beef Profit Quotient suggests slow economic improvement throughout the spring.