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Nebraska sees rise in cattle prices

Nebraska sees rise in cattle prices

By Scout Nelson

Nebraska's agriculture scene is currently dominated by record-high prices for feeder cattle. According to the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service, prices for 500-600 lb. steers reached over $352.16 per cwt in early June, significantly surpassing last year's figures and breaking the previous high from June 2015.

The primary reason behind these soaring prices is a notable reduction in cattle numbers. Nebraska's beef cow inventory has decreased to 1.64 million as of January 1, which is a 4% drop from 2023 and the lowest since 1963.

This trend of declining herds is not unique to Nebraska; it's a common scenario across major cattle states, influenced by factors such as drought and escalating costs which have forced many producers to reduce their herds.

This decrease in supply naturally leads to higher prices for available calves. Meanwhile, feedstuff costs like alfalfa and corn have seen reductions, which, despite rising labor and interest expenses, sets the stage for potentially profitable returns.

Analysis using recent livestock budgets from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Kansas State University projects positive earnings per cow, potentially extending into 2025 and 2026.

The fed cattle market has experienced stagnant prices over the past year, with early June figures hovering around $190.55 per cwt. According to Glynn Tonsor, an agricultural economist at Kansas State University, this sector might face negative returns for the year without effective price risk management strategies due to the imbalance of rising feeder cattle prices and high finishing costs.

While Nebraska's cow-calf operators currently enjoy a period of profitability, the broader agricultural sectors, including crop and feedlot operations, face ongoing economic challenges. This dynamic underscore the cyclic nature of agricultural economics in the state.

Photo Credit -gettyimages-artqu

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Categories: Nebraska, Livestock, Beef Cattle, Dairy Cattle

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