Uncertainty drags on Canadian cattle markets

Beef demand is strong but cattle prices are under pressure, Canfax says

Cattle markets have tumbled as a result of COVID-19, according to the senior analyst at Canfax.

“Feeder markets are off pretty hard, some of them are off 15 to 20 cents a pound, this week,” Brian Perillat said Tuesday. “They have been depressed over the last month. Feedlots too. Fed price is at the low $140. We’re $20 a hundredweight below where we were in January.”

Prices have been dropping since mid-February, when the coronavirus brought much of the Chinese economy to a standstill and rail blockades led to ships backing up at Canadian ports.

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“But over the last week or two, we’ve seen a significant further pullback,” despite the fact that beef demand is strong across the country and meat is selling quickly, he said.

“This morning, they’re up another $10 in wholesale price,” he said. “Wholesale beef prices have jumped up this week, yet cattle prices are under pressure.

“Hopefully we’ll see some stability, but that’s a big ‘hopefully.'”

A drop in the Canadian dollar could help.

“Packers are running on Saturdays, and they’re making a lot of money moving cattle through the system,” said Perillat. “The Canadian dollar could provide a bit of a cushion and an opportunity down the roads for cattle markets.”

He said the government has taken positive steps by keeping the Canada-U.S. border open for the food industry.

— Alexis Kienlen reports for Alberta Farmer from Edmonton.

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Alexis Kienlen

Alexis Kienlen is a reporter for Alberta Farmer, a Glacier FarmMedia publication.

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