Cattle Market Notes: Week Ending May 27, 2016

Cash Cattle:

Cash traded fed cattle were lower this week. The five-area fed steer price for the week of May 19-May 26 averaged $124.81 for live sales, and $196.76 for dressed; respectively, down $6.33 and $7.27. Total volume sold was down 1,000 head from a week ago and up 61,000 head from last year.

Feeder steer cattle and calves were lower across the U.S. this week. Oklahoma City feeder cattle were $16.00 lower for lightweights and $10.00 lower for heavier cattle. Mississippi pasture conditions are relatively good this spring with 71% rated good or excellent, down 1% from a week ago.  In Mississippi auctions, lighter weight feeders weighing 450-500 pounds were $10.00 lower than a week ago, averaging $155.00, while heavy steers were averaging $122.50, down $7.50 from last week.

[ … For Livestock Prices and Production data and trends CLICK HERE … ]

Futures:

Live cattle futures and feeder futures were down this week. June live cattle were down $1.18 on the week and $32.62 lower than a year ago at $119.70, while August live cattle were down $0.88 from last week and down $34.87 from a year ago. Feeder cattle mostly higher this week with August futures down $1.38 from last Friday and down $76.48 from a year ago at $146.48 while October futures are down $0.80 on the week. Nearby corn futures are up $0.19 from a week ago at $4.13 while September futures are up $0.18.

Beef:                                                                                           

Wholesale boxed beef prices are lower compared to a week ago. Choice boxes averaged $223.19, down $2.53 from a week ago and $35.92 lower than a year ago. Select boxes ended the week with an average of $204.78, down $5.60 from last week. The choice-select spread widened from $15.34 a week ago to $18.41 this week.

Note: all cattle and beef prices are quoted in dollars per hundredweight and corn prices are quoted in dollars per bushel, unless stated otherwise.

The ARC County Yield Problem – Not if, But When and Where

The county yields plugged into the Agricultural Risk Program (ARC) calculation have come under fire recently for perceived inaccuracy and varying dramatically across nearby counties.  I was there when the last farm bill was written, there were concerns about the county yields, but a lot of people – Hill staffers, farm groups, and political appointees said surely the USDA can find a way to do this.  Basically, this is a statistical problem and most of us hate statistics. I will try to shed some light here.

Be careful what you wish for

NASS uses a statistically survey approach to estimating yield. It is probably about as cost effective as one can approach the task.  Pollsters, marketing firm, and researchers use these techniques all the time. But here is what you must know.  NASS reported hundreds of county corn yields and then crop reporting districts, state, and national aggregates for 2015.  Note also NASS did not report other counties due to small samples.  The fundamentals of statistical surveying imply the accuracy of NASS estimates increases with each higher level of aggregation.  The bottom line is while state and national numbers are highly credible in most cases, lower levels will simply be less accurate.  Well-established rules of survey sampling dictate the primary way to get better NASS county yield estimates is to send more surveys into the county which will cost money and will necessitate greater respondent burden.  This is an increasing problem over time as there are fewer farmers to be surveyed.  So even if attempted it might not work.

RMA data is great – where there is a lot of it

What about RMA data?  RMA does collect yields from participants and in many locations reaches 80 to 90 percent participation rates.  But participation is not as randomized like the NASS survey, and in a county with an 80% participation rate one may ask what are the characteristics of the 20% not in the program.  Are they the best yielding farms or the worst or neither?  I am unaware of research that answers this question.  I will note the RMA has develop their own county yield estimates for use in area insurance products including STAX and SCO.  But they also encounter counties with limited crop insurance participation and thin data.

Statistical stews

Note that RMA does not mix NASS and their own data so that the historical benchmark is consistent with the covered year.  I have looked at this some in the past and the RMA and NASS data often do not seem to match up.  The RMA data was sometimes lower and sometimes higher than NASS yields.  When NASS and RMA are mixed, you get a statistical stew that probably no one can sort out.

Farmers prefer individual protection if they can get it

Even if we get amazingly accurate county estimates will it be enough? I doubt it.  It is pretty clear farmers want protection that is very highly correlated with their own yield – so the county triggers when the farm needs it.  In 2014 before the introduction of STAX and SCO only two percent of crop insurance acres where insured with area insurance plans.  Why? In part, there are real and perceived variation of yields within counties.  A grad student in our department just defended a thesis showing a dramatic lack of correlation of farm yield with county yields in some counties.  In one county, she found the farm-county yield correlation ranged from 0.18 to 0.93 (perfect would be 1.0).  At 0.93 you have a pretty good risk management tools.  At 0.18 you are pretty close to having payments with no relationship with farm losses.  Remember ACRE with a state trigger was adopted in 2008.  The fix was county yield in 2014.  What next?

A jumpy clutch  

My Dad started me on a Farmall Super C tractor.  It had what he called a jumpy clutch, which meant it went from disengaged to engaged in what felt like a ¼ inch of release.  Many fail to recognize that ARC goes from no payment to maximum payment with a 10% change in revenue.  This mimic a design that my colleagues Barry Barnett and Steve Martin drew up for Steve’s dissertation many years ago.  This differs from crop insurance the triggers at a given coverage and then reaches maximum payment at zero yield.  The 10% range in ARC makes payments react quickly to slight differences in county yield. So county A has a revenue 14% below average and neighboring county B has a revenue 5% worse.  County A gets zero ARC payment and County B gets half the maximum.

‘Fair Boundaries’

The average county in the United States is 997 square miles while the largest county in the lower 48 states is San Bernardino County California at 20,105 square miles.  In Oregon the largest county is 23 times larger than the smallest county. All this just points out that counties in the U.S. are not defined in anything like equitable agricultural regions.  This impacts the magnitude of payments and the correlation of farm-county yields. County size matters but so does crop acreage and heterogeneity within the area.

So what next?

Does USDA need to produce three slightly different county yields – the NASS, RMA, and FSA number?  Compromises in the farm bill probably created some of this confusion.

Georeferenced data may help a lot someday. That day is nearing as USDA migrates to using more common land unit information for RMA and FSA.  Layering of soil, crops and other information may give us the ability define areas based more sophisticated grouping.  Here at Mississippi State we are working with National Commodity Crop Productivity Index (NCCPI) data that makes me hopeful.

But in the end, declining price guarantees in the ARC Olympic average for 2017 and beyond may make this a less important issue anyway.  The Congressional Budget Office projects a dramatic decline in ARC payments for many crops for the 2017 year and beyond.  This means less likely payments and smaller payment if they do occur.

Crop Market Update: May 23, 2016

Corn is lower this week with Greenville cash corn currently trading $0.01 lower than a week ago and $0.18 higher than a year ago at $3.98/bu on Friday. July futures contracts are $0.04 higher on the week at $3.95/bu. Mississippi producers have 98% of the state’s corn crop in the ground, in line with last year’s pace and slightly behind the 5-year average of 99%. Mississippi’s corn crop looks good so far this year with 69% of the state’s crop rated in good or excellent condition. Favorable planting conditions have put U.S. producers ahead of average, with 86% of the U.S. corn crop in the ground compared to a 5-year average of 85%.

Soybean markets are trading higher this week, with Greenville soybeans trading $0.07 higher at $10.64/bu on Friday. A year ago, Greenville soybeans were trading for $9.66/bu. Nearby July soybean futures are trading $0.09 higher than a week ago. Mississippi producers are ahead of the normal planting pace on soybeans with 82% of the state’s crop in the ground compared to a 5-year average of 74%. Producers across the U.S. are slightly ahead of schedule in planting soybeans with 56% of the crop in the ground nationally compared to a 5-year average of 52%.

July wheat futures are down $0.07 from a week ago at $4.68 while Greenville wheat prices are also down $0.06 on the week at $4.44/bu on Friday. A year ago, Greenville cash wheat was selling for $5.23/bu. Mississippi’s wheat crop is in mixed condition so far this year with 10% rated poor or very poor and 50% rated good or excellent. So far about 95% of the state’s wheat crop is headed out, slightly behind the 5-year average of 99%. Nationally, the wheat crop is in relatively good condition with 62% of the U.S crop rated good or excellent, much better than last year when 45% of the U.S. crop was rated good or excellent.

Cotton prices finished the week higher with South Delta cash prices trading $1.05/cwt higher than a week ago at $61.92/cwt and $0.73/cwt lower than a year ago. Nearby cotton futures are lower with July Cotton futures closing at $61.67, down $1.05/cwt from last week. Mississippi producers have currently planted about 81% of the state’s cotton crop, slightly ahead of a year ago and ahead of the 5-year average of 71%. Nationally, 46% of the cotton crop has been planted, behind the 5-year average of 54%.

For more detail on crop futures and Mississippi local cash prices click here.

Cattle Market Notes: Week Ending May 20, 2016

Cash Cattle:

Cash traded fed cattle were lower this week. The five-area fed steer price for the week of May 12-May 19 averaged $131.14 for live sales, and $204.03 for dressed; respectively, down $1.49 and $4.52. Total volume sold was down 3,000 head from a week ago and up 21,000 head from last year.

Feeder steer cattle and calves were mixed across the U.S. this week. Oklahoma City feeder cattle were $1.00 lower for lightweights and $1.00 higher for heavier cattle. Mississippi pasture conditions are relatively good this spring with 72% rated good or excellent, up 1% from a week ago.  In Mississippi auctions, lighter weight feeders weighing 450-500 pounds were $2.50 lower than a week ago, averaging $165.00, while heavy steers were averaging $130.00, up 2.50 from last week.

[ … For Livestock Prices and Production data and trends CLICK HERE … ]

Futures:

Live cattle futures and feeder futures were mixed this week. June live cattle were down $2.68 on the week and $31.25 lower than a year ago at $120.88, while August live cattle were down $1.50 from last week and down $33.43 from a year ago. Feeder cattle mostly higher this week with May futures up $0.85 from last Friday and down $59.30 from a year ago at $148.70 while August futures are up $0.45 on the week. Nearby corn futures are up $0.04 from a week ago at $3.94 while September futures are up $0.03.

Beef:                                                                                           

Wholesale boxed beef prices are higher compared to a week ago. Choice boxes averaged $225.72, up $12.72 from a week ago and $37.47 lower than a year ago. Select boxes ended the week with an average of $210.38, up $8.66 from last week. The choice-select spread widened from $11.28 a week ago to $15.34 this week.

May Cattle on Feed

The United States Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (USDA, NASS) released their monthly Cattle on Feed report Friday afternoon (May 20, 2016). The report revealed that 10.783 million head of cattle were in U.S. feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 head or larger on May 1, 2016, up 1.34% from a year ago. Placements into feedlots during the month of April totaled 1.664 million head while marketings during the same month totaled 1.658 million head, up 7.49% and 1.16% from a year ago, respectively. Placements and the total number of cattle on feed were both well above analysts’ expectations.

Note: all cattle and beef prices are quoted in dollars per hundredweight and corn prices are quoted in dollars per bushel, unless stated otherwise.

May Cattle on Feed Report Recap

The United States Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (USDA, NASS) released their monthly Cattle on Feed report Friday afternoon (May 20, 2016). The report revealed that 10.783 million head of cattle were in U.S. feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 head or larger on May 1, 2016. Placements into feedlots during the month of April totaled 1.664 million head while marketings during the same month totaled 1.658 million head.

[ … For detailed numbers and charts CLICK HERE … ]

Placements totaled 1.664 million head, an increase of 7.49% from April 2015 and a 1.50% increase from the five-year average from 2011 to 2015. Market analyst expected placements to be down 1.6%, so the reported value came in well above expectations. The highest analyst estimate was expecting less than a one percent increase, so the reported value was much higher than even the highest expectation. This month’s numbers continue the trend of increasing heavy placements, with cattle larger than 800 pounds seeing an 11.7% year-over-year increase.

Cattle marketed in April totaled 1.658 million head, up 1.16% versus last year and down 6.37% compared to the average from 2011 to 2015. Pre-report expectations called for marketings to be 1.6% higher than the same period last year, so they came in slightly below where analysts anticipated they would be.

The total number of cattle in feedlots with 1,000 head or larger capacity totaled 10.783 million head, up 1.34% versus May 1, 2015 and 0.60% lower than the five-year average.  Market analysts expected a 0.1% year-over-year increase in cattle inventories, so the reported value came in well above expectations and fell above even the highest analysts’ expectations.

Water is the common bond: agriculture, basic human needs, climate change, the environment

BBC News reports on the current drought in India, a complicated and challenging issue.

Following two consecutive bad monsoons, India is facing one of its worst droughts.

Of its 29 states, nearly half were reported to have suffered from severe water crisis this dry season…

The federal government in Delhi has had to send trains carrying water to the worst affected places.

India has faced a water crisis for years. Its ground waters have depleted to alarming levels, mainly because of unsustainable extraction for agriculture and industries.

In response to the drought, the government is planning to create several linkages between rivers so that water can more easily be distributed to locations most severely affected by the drought. The Water Resources Minister, Uma Bharti, also suggests some forward thinking regarding the project:

“The water crisis will be there [in the future] because of climate change but through this [inter linking of rivers] we will be able to help the people,” Ms Bharti said.

“The public has welcomed it and they are happily ready to be displaced.”

Are you keeping tracks of the costs and benefits of this project so far? Physical cost of actually implementing the linkages, benefit of addressing the current drought (e.g. water for direct human consumption and helping agriculture), benefit of being able to address future climate-change-related water crises, cost of displacing people to make the river linkages…anything else?

Environmentalists have opposed the project, arguing it will invite ecological disaster.

Diverting the water will certainly impact ecological systems. And there’s one final curveball mentioned:

“It is even more impossible in the context of climate change as you don’t know what will happen to the rivers’ flows,” says Himanshu Thakkar of the South Asia Network for Dams, Rivers and People.

“The project is based on the idea of diverting water from where it is surplus to dry areas but there has been no scientific study yet on which places have more water and which ones less.”

So apparently there is uncertainty about where exactly more water is needed now, where there is surplus water now, and how this will change in the future. Undoubtedly there is political pressure to address the problem sooner rather than later. Unfortunately, because the issue is extremely complicated and there is a lot that is unknown, a quality economic analysis of the problem would take a lot of time, time which certain people might not be willing to wait for. A difficult problem to address…

Cattle Market Notes: Week Ending May 13, 2016

Cash Cattle:

Cash traded fed cattle were higher this week. The five-area fed steer price for the week of May 5-May 12 averaged $132.63 for live sales, and $208.55 for dressed; respectively, up $14.60 and $18.57. Total volume sold was unchanged from a week ago and up 21,000 head from last year.

Feeder steer cattle and calves were mixed across the U.S. this week. Oklahoma City feeder cattle were $5.00 higher for lightweights and $8.00 higher for heavier cattle. Mississippi pasture conditions are relatively good this spring with 71% rated good or excellent, unchanged from a week ago.  In Mississippi auctions, lighter weight feeders weighing 450-500 pounds were $7.50 higher from a week ago, averaging $167.50, while heavy steers were averaging $127.50, unchanged from last week.

[ … For Livestock Prices and Production data and trends CLICK HERE … ]

Futures:

Live cattle futures and feeder futures were mixed this week. June live cattle were up $2.68 on the week and $28.98 lower than a year ago at $123.55, while August live cattle were up $0.80 from last week and down $32.03 from a year ago. Feeder cattle were mixed this week with May futures up $0.15 from last Friday and down $71.15 from a year ago at $147.85 while August futures are down $0.07 on the week. Nearby corn futures are up $0.13 from a week ago at $3.90 while September futures are up $0.14.

Beef:                                                                                           

Wholesale boxed beef prices are higher compared to a week ago. Choice boxes averaged $213.00, up $7.28 from a week ago and $49.07 lower than a year ago. Select boxes ended the week with an average of $201.72, up $5.23 from last week. The choice-select spread widened from $9.23 a week ago to $11.28 this week.

WASDE:

The United States Department of Agriculture’s World Supply and Demand Estimates were released on Tuesday morning (May 10, 2016). Beef production for 2015 was unchanged from last month’s estimate at 23.69 billion pounds. Looking ahead to 2016, beef production is expected to be up 1.112 billion pounds from last year at 24.81 billion pounds. The first projection for 2017 beef production was also released. An estimated 25.79 billion pounds of beef are expected to be produced in 2017. Per capita consumption for 2016 was lowered by 0.3 pounds per person to 54.7 pounds per person. On the crop balance sheet, corn ending stocks for the 2015/16 crop were estimated to be 1.803 billion bushels, down 59 million bushels from last month’s estimate. The first estimates for the 2016/17 crop year were also released and 2016/17 ending stocks are expected to be 350 million bushels higher than the 2015/16 stocks at an estimated 2,153 million bushels.

Note: all cattle and beef prices are quoted in dollars per hundredweight and corn prices are quoted in dollars per bushel, unless stated otherwise.

May USDA Supply and Demand Report Gives First Estimates of 2016/17 Crop Numbers

The corn balance sheet for the 2015/16 crop saw a few changes in disappearance from the April release. Feed use was and ethanol were both left unchanged while exports were increased by 75 million bushels. Corn imports were increased by 5 million bushels while production was left unchanged for the 2015/16 crop. Ending stocks for the 2015/16 crop were estimated to be 1.803 billion bushels, down 59 million bushels from last month’s estimate. The first estimates for the 2016/17 crop year were also released. The USDA is projecting 93.6 million acres of corn to be planted this year, and of that 85.9 million acres are expected to be harvested. The planted acres number was also reported in the March 31 Prospective Plantings report while harvested acres are projected based on historical abandonment and silage harvest. Corn yield for the 2016/17 crop year is projected at 168 bu/acre and represents a weather-adjusted trend yield. If the acreage and yield hold true, U.S. producers are expected to produce a record 14.43 billion bushels of corn. This number comes in about 279 million bushels higher than the average trade expectation. Feed and residual use is expected to be about 300 million bushels higher in the 2016/17 crop year than a year ago, which is a reflection of increased production from beef, poultry, and pork. Ethanol use is expected to increase by 50 million bushels while exports are expected to be up 175 million bushels. Despite the year-over-year increase in demand in all major categories, 2016/17 ending stocks are expected to be 350 million bushels higher than the 2015/16 stocks at an estimated 2,153 million bushels. This comes in about 141 million bushels below the average trade expectation.

 The 2015/16 soybean balance sheet also a few changes from the April WASDE report. Soybean harvested acres and yields were left unchanged at 81.8 million acres and 48 bu/acre, respectively. Soybean crush was up 10 million bushels from a month ago while exports are up 35 million bushels from last month’s estimates. Ending stocks for 2015/16 were down 45 million bushels 400 million bushels. The USDA is projecting 82.7 million acres of soybeans to be planted this year, and of that 81.8 million acres are expected to be harvested. The planted acres number was also reported in the March 31 Prospective Plantings report while harvested acres are projected based on historical abandonment. Soybean yield for the 2016/17 crop year is projected at 46.7 bu/acre and represents a weather-adjusted trend yield. U.S. producers are expected to produce 3.8 billion bushels of soybeans. This number comes in very close to the average trade expectation. Soybean crush is expected to be about 35 million bushels higher in the 2016/17 crop year than a year ago, while exports are expected to be up 145 million bushels. With the year-over-year increase in demand in all major categories as well as slightly lower production, 2016/17 ending stocks are expected to be 95 million bushels lower than 2015/16 stocks at an estimated 305 million bushels. This comes in well below the 405 million bushels that traders were expecting.

 The 2015/16 wheat crop balance sheet saw only a few minor changes. Food use was lowered by 7 million bushels, while exports were increased by 5 million bushels. Ending stocks for wheat came in at 978 million bushels, up 2 million bushels from a month ago. The USDA is projecting 49.6 million acres of wheat to be planted this year, and of that 42.8 million acres are expected to be harvested. The planted acres number was also reported in the March 31 Prospective Plantings report while harvested acres are reported in the May USDA Crop Production Report. Wheat yield for the 2016/17 crop year is projected at 46.7 bu/acre and is also reported in the May USDA Crop Production Report. U.S. producers are expected to produce 1.998 billion bushels of wheat. This number comes in 17 million bushels below the average trade expectation. Wheat food use as well as seed use are both expected to be about 3 million bushels higher in the 2016/17 crop year than a year ago, while exports are expected to be up 95 million bushels. Wheat feed use is expected to be 30 million bushels higher. Despite the year-over-year increase in demand, 2016/17 ending stocks are expected to be 51 million bushels higher than 2015/16 stocks at an estimated 1.029 billion bushels. Mississippi yields are expected to be 55 bu/acre, up 7 bu/acre from a year ago, while production in the state is projected to be 1.91 million bushels lower at 3.85 million bushels.

 The cotton balance sheet saw a few minor revisions this month. Cotton production was up slightly at 12.89 million bales as a result of a slight increase in harvested acres. Domestic use was unchanged from last month, while exports were reduced by 500,000 bales. Ending stocks for 2015/16 are up 500,000 bales at 4 million bales. The USDA is projecting 9.56 million acres of cotton to be planted this year, and of that 8.8 million acres are expected to be harvested. The planted acres number was also reported in the March 31 Prospective Plantings report while harvested acres are projected based on historical abandonment. Cotton yield for the 2016/17 crop year is projected at 807 lbs/acre and represents a 3-year average weighted by region. U.S. producers are expected to produce 14.8 million bales of cotton, up 1.91 million bales from a year ago. Domestic cotton use is expected to be the same as a year ago, while exports are expected to be up 1.5 million bales. Cotton ending stocks are expected to be 700,000 bales higher than 2015/16 stocks at an estimated 4.7 million bales.

Crop Market Update: May 9, 2016

Corn is lower this week with Greenville cash corn currently trading $0.14 lower than a week ago and $0.01 lower than a year ago at $3.86/bu on Friday. July futures contracts are also $0.14 lower on the week at $3.78/bu. Mississippi producers have 94% of the state’s corn crop in the ground, slightly ahead of last year’s pace but in line with the 5-year average of 95%. Mississippi’s corn crop looks good so far this year with 62% of the state’s crop rated in good or excellent condition. Favorable planting conditions have put U.S. producers well ahead of average, with 64% of the U.S. corn crop in the ground compared to a 5-year average of 50%.

Soybean markets are trading higher this week, with Greenville soybeans trading $0.45 higher at $10.72/bu on Friday. A year ago, Greenville soybeans were trading for $10.08/bu. Nearby July soybean futures are trading $0.05 higher than a week ago. Mississippi producers are ahead of the normal planting pace on soybeans with 57% of the state’s crop in the ground compared to a 5-year average of 50%. Producers across the U.S. are slightly ahead of schedule in planting soybeans with 23% of the crop in the ground nationally compared to a 5-year average of 16%.

July wheat futures are down $0.25 from a week ago at $4.64 while Greenville wheat prices are also down $0.25 on the week at $4.39/bu on Friday. A year ago, Greenville cash wheat was selling for $4.89/bu. Mississippi’s wheat crop is in mixed condition so far this year with 12% rated poor or very poor and 50% rated good or excellent. So far about 88% of the state’s wheat crop is headed out, slightly behind the 5-year average of 91%. Nationally, the wheat crop is in relatively good condition with 62% of the U.S crop rated good or excellent, much better than last year when 44% of the U.S. crop was rated good or excellent.

Cotton prices finished the week lower with South Delta cash prices trading $1.94/cwt lower than a week ago at $62.08/cwt and $2.28/cwt lower than a year ago. Nearby cotton futures are lower with July Cotton futures closing at $61.83, down $1.94/cwt from last week. Mississippi producers have currently planted about 35% of the state’s cotton crop, slightly behind a year ago and ahead of the 5-year average of 33%. Nationally, 26% of the cotton crop has been planted, right on pace with the 5-year average of 26%.

For more detail on crop futures and Mississippi local cash prices click here.

Cattle Market Notes: Week Ending May 6, 2016

Cash Cattle:

Cash traded fed cattle were down this week. The five-area fed steer price for the week of April 28-May 5 averaged $118.03 for live sales, and $189.98 for dressed; respectively, down $5.84 and $4.52. Total volume sold was unchanged from a week ago and up 23,000 head from last year.

Feeder steer cattle and calves were mixed across the U.S. this week. Oklahoma City feeder cattle were $10.00 higher for lightweights and steady to $1.00 lower for heavier cattle. Mississippi pasture conditions are relatively good this spring with 71% rated good or excellent, unchanged from a week ago. In Mississippi auctions, lighter weight feeders weighing 450-500 pounds were unchanged from a week ago, averaging $160.00, while heavy steers were averaging $127.50, also unchanged from last week.

[ … For Livestock Prices and Production data and trends CLICK HERE … ]

Futures:

Live cattle futures and feeder futures were higher this week. June live cattle were up $6.08 on the week and $30.53 lower than a year ago at $120.88, while August live cattle were up $5.55 from last week and down $33.90 from a year ago. Feeder cattle were higher this week with May futures up $7.63 from last Friday and down $68.28 from a year ago at $147.70 while August futures are up $7.30 on the week. Nearby corn futures are down $0.15 from a week ago at $3.77 while September futures are down $0.12.

Beef:                                                                                           

Wholesale boxed beef prices are down compared to a week ago. Choice boxes averaged $205.72, down $9.79 from a week ago and $50.89 lower than a year ago. Select boxes ended the week with an average of $196.49, down $9.82 from last week. The choice-select spread widened slightly from $9.20 a week ago to $9.23 this week.

Note: all cattle and beef prices are quoted in dollars per hundredweight and corn prices are quoted in dollars per bushel, unless stated otherwise.