Editor's note: The Agribusiness Weekly Update, compiled from various sources by The City Wire staff, is presented each week. Sources include the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Hedgers Edge, Cattle Buyers Weekly and Derrell Peel, livestock specialist at Oklahoma State University.
U.S. beef packer margins averaged about $10 per head last week, according to Hedgers Edge. A year ago packers were just breaking even. Bob Wilson at Hedgers Edge said beef margins have deteriorated this week to average $4.45 as packers are paying more for cattle. Cash fed cattle traded at $122.72 per cwt. last week, up $2.82. Cattle slaughter was down 3% last week compared to a year ago. Frozen beef in cold storage rose 3% from March totals, and increased 17% compared to 2011, according to USDA.
Hogs & Pork
Fresh pork processing margins ran in the red by roughly $5 per head last week, that compared $3.50 cents per head profited last year. Packer losses fell to $14 per head this week. Production outpaced sales sending cold storage volumes higher. Total pork in freezers rose 8% in April compared to March, and 20% higher than in 2011, according to USDA.
Chicken processors have enjoyed positive margins for several weeks thanks in part to production discipline. Broiler chicks placed for meat production in Arkansas were 19.9 million during the week ending May 19. Placements were down 4% from the comparable week in 2011. Arkansas hatcheries set 21.8 million eggs during the week, down 6% from the same period last year. Total chicken placed in cold storage advanced 6% from March totals, but fell 18% from 2011, according to USDA.
In the first quarter of 2012 egg production rose 1% compared to the same period in 2011. US egg production totaled 7.58 billion during April, down 1% from last year. Production for the remainder of 2012 is expected to continue rising slightly compared to the second and third quarters of last year.
Cash corn prices finished the week $6.22 per bushel. May contract traded at $6.22 and the July contract closed at $6.03 per bushel. Concerns about dryness in Chinas corn producing area limited pressure and kept all contracts steady to slightly higher. May soybean prices fell slightly to $13.32 per bushel. The July contract closed at $13.62, down $1.90 per bushel. Soybeans slid lower as negative outside markets had many funds looking for less risky investments. Concerns that Europe would be unable to keep Greece in the Euro zone had funds unloading long positions in beans and keeping speculators on the sidelines, according to Arkansas Farm Bureau.
Milk production in the 23 major states during April totaled 16.0 billion pounds, up 3.3% from April 2011. March revised production at 16.4 billion pounds, was up 4.3% from March 2011. Production per cow in the 23 states averaged 1,875 pounds for April, 40 pounds above last year, according to the USDA.
Ethanol averaged $2.18 per gallon last week, compared to $2.65 a year ago, according to the USDA. Cash ethanol prices traded at a $1.20 discount to gasoline for the week ending May 18.