Economist and politicians see positive signs for beef


Phyllis Coulter, Illinois Farmer Today

AgUpdate - Jun 17, 2022


MACOMB, Ill. — Beef producers received several positive messages about marketing and policy at their summer conference in Macomb, Illinois, June 7.


“Even with higher feed costs,” Scott Brown, University of Missouri ag economist, told producers he sees “room for profit.”


On the economic front, Brown told attendees at the combined Illinois Beef Association and IFGC Forage Expo that high feed prices are tough on feeder cattle producers now, but with falling cattle numbers, he expects the long-term to be positive.


“We are not building cow numbers or holding heifers,” he said.


It’s rare to have a clear crystal ball, but Brown said with confidence cattle numbers will likely be down in 2024.


The USDA is predicting a 7% decrease in beef production in 2023. With a tighter supply, prices will likely go up, he said.


He also said the demand for U.S. beef in China will likely continue.


“China has changed the mix,” he said of its greater demand for beef in recent months.


Back home, Brown expects that packer pricing issues and transparency will likely get pushed into the 2024 Farm Bill.


“There’s nothing easy about this discussion,” he said. “We are going to keep working on this.”


Brown also cautioned that potential legislation regarding the packing industry could bring “unintended consequences.” There is concern that a regulatory fix could make the situation worse, he said.


For his market price outlook for 2022-23, he said...