A Japanese consumer shops for meat.
A Japanese consumer shops for meat.

U.S. beef exports totaled 216 million pounds in July, up 8% from a year ago. Increased shipments to South Korea, Mexico and Japan more than offset a decrease in beef going north to Canada.

Because of a big decline in shipments from Australia, U.S. beef imports were down 6.8% in July to 269 million pounds which is the lowest monthly total since February.

July cattle imports were down 44% with imports from Canada down 28% and cattle coming north from Mexico down 54%.

For the third consecutive week fed cattle prices are lower in heavy sales volume. Through Thursday, the 5-area average price for slaughter steers sold on a live weight basis was $105.04/cwt, down $4.88 from last week's average and down $34.94 from a year ago. The 5-area dressed steer price averaged $166.29/cwt, down $7.74 from the week before and down $53.80 from a year ago. This week's fed cattle prices are the lowest since the first week of June 2011.

Beef cutout value was also lower this week. This morning, the choice boxed beef cutout value was $187.94/cwt, down $4.16 from the previous Friday, and down $50.04 from this week last year. The select carcass cutout this morning was $183.00/cwt, down $4.92 from last week. The choice cutout value is the lowest since August 2013.

This week's cattle slaughter was light because of the Labor Day holiday. It totaled 528,000 head, down 13.4% from last week, but up 5.4% from a year ago. The average steer dressed weight for the week ending on August 27 was 896 pounds, up 3 pounds from the week before, down 10 pounds from a year ago, and below the year-ago level for the 17th week in a row.

USDA's weekly crop progress report said that 16% of U.S. pastures were in poor or very poor condition on September 4. That is unchanged from the week before and down 3 points from a year ago.

Because of the Labor Day holiday on Monday, there was no feeder cattle auction at Oklahoma City this week. Feeder cattle prices were $5 to $10 lower this week at Missouri auctions. Prices for medium and large frame #1 steers by weight group were: 400-450# $144-$175.50, 450-500# $132-$165, 500-550# $130-$159.50, 550-600# $130-$152, 600-650# $125-$152, 650-700# $121-$155, 700-750# $131-$153.10, 750-800# $130-$150.75, 800-900# $118.50-$150.50 and 900-1000# $127.25-$132.10/cwt.

The October live cattle futures contract settled at $104.40/cwt today, up $2.80 for the week. December fed cattle settled at $105.40/cwt, up $1.93 from the previous Friday. February fed cattle futures settled at $105.55/cwt and April ended the week at $104.30/cwt.

September feeder cattle futures ended the week at $134.22/cwt, down 65 cents from a week earlier. October feeder cattle lost 80 cents this week to settle at $131.27/cwt. November feeder cattle futures closed the week at $128.67/cwt.