April through December cattle futures all closed down the 3 cent trading limit yesterday as rumors of a mad cow case in California helped to trigger aggressive long liquidation selling. Rumors that the USDA was scheduling a press briefing for after the close added further pressure to the market. After the press briefing, however, June cattle bounced up 100 points from limit-down levels. The USDA confirmed that a case of BSE (mad cow) was found in a dairy cow in California, and is the fourth case found in the US. At this point, it is uncertain on how the disease was contracted and it is also uncertain if any major importing nations will ban US beef. It is possible that the case may have little or no impact on the market over the long-term, as the cow did not enter the food chain and poor feeding practices have not been brought up as an issue. Higher beef prices over the past week and the discount of futures to the cash market were seen as supporting the market earlier in the session. As far as the mad cow news, some traders feel that this recent event might be considered one which may have the least impact on consumer demand, exports and human health. The early details to this story are that one cow was found at a rendering plant to be used for soap and glue which had an atypical form of the disease. More importantly, the cow does not appear to have received the disease from eating contaminated feed and the carcass did not enter the US food supply chain. If this case triggers any nation to ban US beef, there could be a very short period of lower exports and possibly lower US beef consumption. There were only 29 cases worldwide in 2011 which is down from the 1992 peak of 37,311. The estimated cattle slaughter came in at 126,000 head yesterday, which was a bit higher than expected and could mean better demand from packers. This brings the total for the week so far to 246,000 head, up from 234,000 head last week at this time and up from 222,000 head a year ago. Boxed beef cutout values were up 63 cents at mid-session yesterday and closed $1.37 higher at $189.94. This was up from $183.47 the prior week and is the highest beef trade since March 20th.
Join the Discussion