Beef Prices Soar After Blizzard Clobbers Midwest
Cattle futures extended a surge to a record and wholesale beef jumped to a 13-month high after a weekend blizzard hammered the Midwest, and a Kansas livestock group estimated the snowstorm may have killed thousands of animals, signaling tightening meat supplies.
More than half of U.S. feedlots are located in the region hit by the massive storm that dumped more than 12 inches (30 centimeters) of snow, blanketing an area from the Texas Panhandle to Nebraska, said Lee Reeve, principal at Reeve Cattle Co. in Garden City, Kansas, and president-elect of the Kansas Livestock Association. Losses were the highest among younger animals and a feedlot with 80,000 head of cattle north of Garden City lost more than 1,000 animals, he said in a telephone interview.
“The storm came on so fast, and it was the heaviest snow I’ve ever seen,” said Reeve, who lost about 40 animals from his 43,000-head operation.
Cash cattle prices had seen big gains even before the storm, surging 40 percent since the middle of October as domestic and global beef demand rose. President Donald Trump declared success last month in gaining greater access to China for U.S. beefs suppliers following meetings with President Xi Jinping, and Brazil’s beef exports may trail previous expectations after a probe into tainted meat last month led to temporary import bans by several countries.