Dennis Sun: So What Does 2022 Mean To The Ag Community? We Are Cautious

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By Dennis Sun, Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Happy New Year! When I say that to friends this year, I really mean it. What I’m saying is I’m through with the year 2021, which to most of us wasn’t that great of a year.

I am realizing normal isn’t normal any more, and most likely will not be for a few years. But, there are some positives for the new year, and hopefully this means less negative experiences. 

We are all concerned about current drought conditions and just how long it hangs on, hopefully ending sometime next spring. Just remember, a drought always ends.

I hope inflation has cooled down, as this makes inputs and everything else more expensive. I hope for the election to consist of more conservative Congressional candidates to stop the president’s run-away spending.

We have to realize whatever this administration does – we call it making mistakes – their actions are 100 percent intentional. We don’t yet know what the 30×30 program is all about, as the administration has stayed quiet about it since the blow-back they first received when it was announced, but it can’t be good. 

We have to stay aware of meat alternatives and fight to have products labeled correctly, which should turn consumers away from fake meats. 

I can see another good year for those who raise sheep, despite predator issues. Here’s to hoping wool and lamb prices stay good. That is one industry which benefited from the pandemic, as consumers realized lamb makes for a good meal and the meat is easy to cook.

The beef industry hasn’t been too good for producers in the last year, but prices have been up in the last months of 2021.

The market has been good for not only calves and yearlings, but prices for canner and cutter cows and bulls, also. The predictions for better days in 2022 are forecasted, and we hope they hold true. With the expected rise on a strong beef export market, along with lower cattle numbers, producers should gain some ground. Slaughter numbers are up to around 676,000 each week in the past few weeks.

As I’ve written before in this column, beef byproducts were a strong positive, especially in the second half of 2021. A recent article from BEEF Magazine stated during the week of Dec. 3, the steer byproduct value was $14.61 per live hundredweight (cwt), up 72 percent to $6.11 per cwt, from the same week in 2020 and 42 percent at $4.32 per cwt,  above the 2015-19 average.

At $14.46 per live cwt, the early December cow byproduct value was up 46 percent to $4.54 per cwt compared to a year earlier, and 60 percent higher to $5.44 per cwt, the five-year average. The last time drop values reached similar levels was in 2014.

Interestingly, the cow byproduct value averaged greater on a dollar per live or dressed weight base than the steer byproduct value in 2021. This has occasionally happened in the past, but not in such a prolonged period and to this degree. This does not mean steer byproducts were worth less, rather cow byproducts were worth more.

The year-over-year strength of tripe is up 473 percent, livers are up 267 percent, tongues are up 143 percent, oxtails are up 112 percent and edible tallow is up 108 percent. 

While those are great increases, consumers think retail beef prices are high, but retail beef prices are actually lower than they would be without byproduct sales. This is because the processing costs of the entire animal to wholesalers are spread across both muscle cuts and byproducts.

So, there is a big positive note going into the new year. Have a great New Year. 

The Wyoming Livestock Roundup is a weekly agriculture newspaper available in print and online. To subscribe, visit wylr.net or call 1-800-967-1647.

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