Early estimates put cattle losses due to Nebraska’s flood at $500 million dollars, according to the Nebraska Farm Bureau, and the impact to ranchers and feedlots will be felt for weeks. Feedyard performance will continue to be an issue and restoring pen conditions will be a slow process.
Average weekly slaughter weights were running 16 pounds lower before the storm, and now average weights will be even lower and market prices are likely to see some positive near-term influence. Wholesale beef prices were trending higher before the storm hit last week, and that continues early this week.
Retail beef prices continue running above year-ago levels, and packers are solidly profitable. Recent weather market disruptions and strong consumer beef demand suggest packers will be aggressive buyers in the short-term. Analysts believe wholesale beef prices could reach a spring high in the lower $230’s per hundredweight, which would be about $5 higher than last year’s spring high.