Commodities & Metals

Cost of Beef to Soar

Source: Thinkstock
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) last week released some preliminary data from its “USDA Agricultural Projections to 2024” report due for full release on February 11, 2015. The best news for beef producers is that the near-term price projections for all types of beef will rise in the next few years. That is also the bad news for consumers.

The USDA projects that farm prices for beef cattle will rise from an average of $1.5252 a pound in 2014 to $1.5754 a pound in 2015 to a high of $1.63 a pound by 2017, before dropping back to $1.5617 by 2024. The price follows the size of the cattle inventory, which the USDA forecasts will post a low of 87.7 million in 2015 before beginning to rise again to more than 94 million in 2024.

Corn prices will rise as planted acreage declines from 90.9 million acres this year to 89.0 million acres in 2024. The average farm price per bushel this year is forecast at $3.50, rising slowly to $3.75 in 2024. The feed-price ratio of beef to corn also rises, from 34.2 this year to 42.2 in 2014.

The USDA’s forecast for corn used to produce ethanol is nearly flat, rising from 5.15 billion bushels this year to 5.20 billion bushels in 2024. That forecast assumes essentially no change in the federal renewable fuels standards.

Wheat will see a price drop over the period, from $5.90 a bushel now to $4.85 a bushel in 2024. Farm acreage planted in wheat is forecast to decline from 56.8 million acres to 52.0 million acres in 2024.

The USDA projections make assumptions about U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) and global macroeconomics as well, and those tables are also included in the early release of data. For example, the USDA expects U.S. GDP to rise from $16.075 trillion in 2009 chain-weighted dollars to $21.022 trillion in 2024. Global population growth is forecast to average around 1% annually from 2015 through 2024 from a base of 7.045 billion in 2013.

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