CattleFax Executive Vice President Randy Blach told his audience this week at the Kansas Livestock Association’s convention not “to go to sleep.” And he wasn’t talking about their state as they sat in their chairs at the Hyatt Regency Wichita.
Blach was referring to staying sharp on being better risk managers with such a volatile market.
“The volatility will stay there for a while,” said Blach, whose company provides an information and analysis service for producers. “We’re one crop failure away (from serious problems), and it wouldn’t have to be a very big crop failure. So don’t go to sleep. Stay focused on the margins and when the market gives you an opportunity, take it.”
Blach also told the producers that 2008 saw record-high prices but also record-high costs. He said the U.S. had the smallest cow heard since 1962 and will continue to shrink in this economy. At the same time, it takes less cattle to feed more because of improved weights, genetics and nutrition for the cattle.
At the ranch level, Blach said the cost to raise and carry a cow for a year has increased $150 per head over the last five years. He also recommended that cow-calf operators retain ownership through the feeding phase.
Because of the economy, he noted that consumers have shuffled their beef cuts downward. He said trimmings are up 15 percent, chucks 10 percent, rounds 9 percent, while ribs have remained unchanged and loins are down 7 percent.
Blach also projected beef exports will increase 27 percent in 2009.