MARKET COMMENTARY:

Last week’s column on Mandatory Country of Origin labeling caused more phone calls & emails than any one that I have written. I’m guessing any one who doesn’t support M-COOL failed to call because 100% of responses were in support of C.O.O.L. Several people asked by N.C.B.A. doesn’t support mandatory C.O.O.L. This is my simple country bumpkin answer. N.C.B.A. is dominated by the Texas Cattle feeders and the packers they work for. In 2019 imported feeder cattle from Mexico were 1318 million head which is 4.1% higher than 2018 and 17% higher than the 5 year average. So simply put you can source cheaper feeder cattle and market them at the same price as our domestic supply. It’s a great deal, if you can get away with it. They lobbied to kill M-COOL and once they got it done it’s been a huge advantage for that segment! Who really get hurt is the United States cow/calf producers. That group of hard working men & women deserve better. I did attend National meetings this past weekend centering around a national mandatory electronic ID program. As proposed these rules are a huge cost burden to our cow/calf producers. I’ll keep you updated and will always work to fight for you!!!  I say we flood Ag Secretary Perdue’s email and phone lines with calls to bring mandatory country of origin labeling back. You can email agsec@usda.gov or call 202-720-3631 and the website is usda.gov.

Fed Cattle/Weigh Cows Tuesday, Feb 11th:
Fed cattle were $1-3 lower Tuesday. The pressure from the board has finally hit the live market. Weigh cows remain in a dismal state. I read another article from a "beef expert". This one stated how we need to import so much lean beef to keep our domestic ground beef prices cheap. Nothing cheap about ground beef at $4.50/lb. The only thing cheap is the weigh cows to supply it . If you ever wonder why I complain about not having country of origin labeling look no further than the weigh cow market.
Fat Cattle (207 head):
Str. Top - $118.25
Str. Choice - $116-$118.25
Str. Select/Choice - $112-$115
2-Ways - $no test
Hfr. Top - $117.75
Hfr. Choice - $115-$117.75
Hfr. Select/Choice - $112-$115
2-Ways - $no test
Choice Holsteins - $80-$84.50
Select Holsteins - $70-$75
Fat Hfrts. - $80-$95
Weigh Cows 496 head):  
Fed Cows: $60-$68
Bulk Cows: $50-$58
Low Yield: $35-$49
High Yielding Bulls: $no test
Bulk of Bulls: $75-$85
Cutting Bulls: $85-$100
Preg open hfrs: $95-$115
Hfrts: $65-$85
Bred Female/Pairs Auction Wed, Feb 5th:
We had a great bred female sweetheart auction on Wednesday with just over 800 head. Last year on this auction we had over 1700 head. The number of bred stock this season is down a bunch. I think buyers can sense the decrease in numbers and thus are expecting a smaller calf crop in 2020 which could really bolster feeder prices in the next several years. The broken mouth cows look like a really good buy to me. Please remember we will have breeding bull auctions every 2 weeks on Wednesday for the next couple of months. Here are the ranges:
Bred Hfrs (large frame): $1700-$2025
Bred Hfrs (smaller frame): $1400-$1700
Young cows: $1400-$1850
Med Age cows: $1000-$1425
Aged cows: $750-$1000
These breds seem like a pretty good buy compared to the 2 gold trips we sold Friday night at a Catholic school gala in Omaha. 1 trip at $18,000.00 & another at $13,000.00. There were hunters in the crowd too as a South Dakota pheasant hunt fetched $12,000. I’d let them clean out my pigeons on the farm for plenty less!

Feeder Cattle Auction: Fri, Feb 7th:
We sold just short of 3800 head Friday on our Western Iowa Precondition Auction. Still no favors from the board however Friday’s auction was extremely active. Feed yard conditions improving with the colder weather sure help everyone’s mood. Light cattle continue to lead the charge with more pressure on the heavier fleshy cattle that market in the July-August time period. Here are some actual sales.
13 Strs 389# @ $199.00        17 Hfrs 473# @ $171.75
20 Strs 508# @ $187.50        10 Hfrs 479# @ $172.50
52 Strs 602# @ $171.25        43 Hfrs 559# @ $154.00
21 Strs 601# @ $169.25        30 Hfrs 563# @ $151.00
81 Strs 700# @ $155.75        10 Hfrs 653# @ $141.50
177 Strs 714# @ $158.30      49 Hfrs 708# @ $137.50
49 Strs 813# @ $143.00        26 Replacement Hfrs 658# $151.75
43 Strs 935# @ $132.25        12 Replacement Hfrs 729# $152.75