Western Ag Network: Thursday, February 2, 2023

The U.S. cattle herd shrunk by 3% in 2022. What will this mean for ranchers? The National Cattlemen's Beef Association sues Biden Administration over new Waters of the U.S. Rule.

Jimmy Orr

February 02, 20234 min read

Farm ag 2 2 23
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)


Western Ag Network Report for Feb. 2, 2023

Welcome back for today’s farm and ranch news today finds us that the cattle industry convention in New Orleans. And our coverage is brought to you this week by Neogen. The industry leader in beef cattle DNA testing builds your cow herd for the future with identity beef DNA testing, use radio code radio to get 20% off your next order by visiting neogen.com.

Well, one of the big topics that starting off this week’s convention is the January 1 cattle inventory report released Tuesday by USDA.

The report shows all cattle and calves in the US as of January 1 totaled 89.3 million head, 3% below the 92.1 million head on January 1, 2022.

While cattle producers expected to see a decrease in total numbers due to drought and profitability. The report reveals that we have the lowest ever recorded number of beef cows out in the country side.

Shayle Stewart, DTN Livestock Analyst:  So we can focus on the beef cow herd. And what that was really pegged against and what were what we were comparing it against was the 2014 number. And so in 2014, that was previously the all time lowest number of beef cows that the industry had had at 29 million head, today the report came out at 28.9 million head. So that was down 4% compared to a year ago. And so that was significantly smaller than what we had expected to come out today.

Higher cattle prices are now expected in the weeks and months ahead. But Stewart has this advice for ranchers before they contract their calves this year

Stewart: Know the market where we sit in regards to inventory and to know how that plays out in the marketplace. And so one thing I think everybody should go and do is even though the futures market is just an anticipation of what prices could be, it’s never a guarantee, I would really encourage producers to go look at the May contract of 2023 compared to that of August.

And you’re gonna see last week it was a $19 price spread. And so I would caution them to be leery of marketing too early in the year just simply because as we work our way into the second half of 2023 supply shouldn’t become even tighter, even thinner and that should drive prices higher.

As expected, the 2022 calf crop here in the US was estimated at 34 and a half million head, down 2% from the previous years calf crop. We’ll be right back…

As the cattle industry convention continues here in New Orleans. Last month, the National Cattleman’s Beef Association filed a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency challenging the Biden administration’s final Waters of the US rule. The rule removes long standing bipartisan exclusions for small and isolated water features, the group says

Ethan Lane, NCBA VP of Government Affairs: This is the latest front in that in that war, filing a lawsuit leading a group of 17 different groups that all view this issue the same way and really kind of hammering down on this agency’s just refusal to really hear input from cattle producers on on what would take a rule from this sort of incendiary place that it’s been and move it back towards somewhere where some predictability and an accountability for producers is in the mix.

And right now, that’s just not a part of this rule. So we are taking it to federal court. Obviously, that’s happening at the same time as a Supreme Court’s already reviewing a decision, potential decision on the previous rule. And you know, what they come up with there, as far as that significant nexus standard could have implications for the case we’re involved in now. But before that even gets to that point, our first goal with these lawsuits is to try to stop this rule from moving forward.

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the Sackett versus EPA case that Ethan Lane referred to back on October 3 2022, and is expected to release a decision here early in 2023. Reporting from New Orleans on my Lane Nordlund.

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Jimmy Orr

Executive Editor

A third-generation Wyomingite, Jimmy Orr is the executive editor and co-founder of Cowboy State Daily.