International trade continues to be a drag on the U.S. beef market as the strong dollar and high U.S. beef prices make the U.S. an attractive market to sell into, but a less appealing place to buy from.
U.S. beef imports totaled 288 million pounds during July. That was up 9.7% compared to a year ago. Beef imports have been above the year-ago level for 17 months in a row.
U.S. beef exports totaled 200 million pounds during July. That was down 12.7% compared to a year ago. Beef exports have been below the year-ago level for 10 months in a row.
Beef exports equaled 9.8% of U.S. production in July. Beef imports equaled 14.1% of production.
Fed cattle prices this week were lower on heavy volume. Through Thursday, the 5-area average price for slaughter steers sold on a live weight basis was $141.20/cwt, down $2.20 from last week's average and down $18.02 from a year ago. The 5 area average dressed price this week for steers was $222.12/cwt, down $4.85 for the week and down $27.82 compared to the same week last year.
This morning the choice boxed beef cutout value was $240.63/cwt, down $3.00 from the previous Friday and down $7.93 from a year ago. The select carcass cutout was $229.15/cwt this morning, down $3.68 from last week and down $8.15 from a year ago.
Cattle slaughter this week totaled 556,000 head, up 2.0% from the week before and up 6.3% from the same week last year (which began with Labor Day).
The average steer dressed weight for the week ending on August 22 was 905 pounds, up 5 pounds from the week before, up 25 pounds compared to the same week last year, above the year-ago level for 62 consecutive weeks, and one pound below the record set last November.
Feeder cattle prices at Oklahoma City were steady to $2 higher this week. Prices for medium and large frame #1 steers by weight group were: 400-450# $295-$302.50, 450-500# $240-$256, 500-550# $232-$242.50, 550-600# $232-$236.50, 600-650# $215-$233, 650-700# $210-$219.50, 700-750# $198-$218.50, 750-800# $196-$210.25, 800-900# $193-$207 and 900-1000#, $193.50-$204.25/cwt.
Cattle futures were lower this week. The October live cattle futures contract settled at $140.47/cwt today, down $3.505 for the week. December fed cattle settled at $142.77/cwt, down $3.28 from the previous week. February fed cattle settled at $142.70/cwt. September feeder cattle ended the week at $201.35/cwt, down $1.03 from seven days earlier. The October feeder cattle contract lost $3.22 to close at $195.70/cwt.
USDA's pasture condition report says that 18% of pasture acres were in poor or very poor condition on August 30. That is 2 points higher than the week before, but 2 points lower than a year ago.