With three-quarters of 2016 nearly in the books, we see continued expansion of the beef cow herd and continued increases in beef production.

Year-to-date beef production is up 5% and will continue to post monthly year-over-year gains for the rest of this year and in 2017. Cattle supplies will increase as feedlot inventories post month-over-month increases for the next 16 to 20 months.

Adding to the increase in beef production is carcass weight data that shows steers 4 pounds heavier than last year and heifers 8 pounds heavier.

While increases in beef production will weigh on market prices, U.S. beef exports continue to show improvement during 2016. July beef export volume was up 8%, and Sterling Marketing forecasts an 8% overall gain for this year. Another 6% gain is expected during 2017.

That contrasts with an expected decrease in U.S. beef imports of 13% this year, and another 11% decline expected next year.

Overall, Sterling Marketing expects expansion during 2016 will push the U.S. cattle inventory to about 94 million head on January 1 of 2017, a 2% increase. Sterling Marketing also projects the 2016 calf crop will be up 4% over last year.

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