Beef Market Update: Brown Grass, Unprecedented Basis Levels, & Why the Canadian Cow Herd Isn’t Growing

Rain doesn’t just make grain, it makes beef too, and much of Saskatchewan and Alberta is in desperate need of moisture to support the cattle out on grass.

In this episode of the almost-in-person Beef Market Update, Anne Wasko, of Gateway Livestock, and Shaun Haney, of RealAgriculture, cover some serious ground, from the possible repealing of COOL, to stubborn heifer-retention numbers, and packing plants feeling the pinch of more competition for Canadian cattle.

Related: Let It Rain — A Depth of Field photo essay of the Western Canadian drought

What’s kept this cattle market in record-setting territory? Wasko shares some of the highlights garnered at this week’s Saskatchewan Stock Growers annual meeting, and explains why we’re not going to see any cow-herd building in 2015 without some serious moisture on the prairies.

As for the surprising levels of demand — consumer demand for beef actually rose 11% in 2014 — Wasko says that we’re learning more and more about our very diverse consumer base. No longer dependable in their spending habits, today’s consumer base is far more diverse and choosey in where they commit their cash, and, so far, beef has enjoyed a loyal buying base.

Related: The consumer is dead — long live the consumer!

From there, we can’t talk beef markets without talking COOL and the move this week by the U.S. to finally repeal it (it’s not a done deal yet, so stay tuned). Will there be an immediate impact on Candian beef operations? Could cattle feeders be hurt? What about the packers?  That’s where it could get very interesting and very tight, she says, but you’ll have to listen to the interview for the details.

In the meantime, let it rain, and then #retainyourheifers.

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