Sizeable drop in US cattle herd will see beef production hit 20-year low

The cattle herd in the US, the world’s largest beef producer, has probably fallen to the smallest in 63 years, a Bloomberg survey showed.

More than 80% of Texas, the biggest producing state, is still abnormally dry, and ranchers such as Weldon are struggling to recover. Fewer cattle will mean production in the $85bn (€63bn) beef industry drops to a 20-year low in 2014, the US Department of Agriculture said. Retail costs for the meat are at an all-time high, government data show.

Cattle futures rose 4.4% this month and touched $1.432 (€1) a pound on Jan 22, the highest since trading began on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange in 1964. The Standard & Poor’s GSCI gauge of 24 raw materials dropped 0.9% in 2014, and the MSCI All-Country World Index of equities fell 3.6%. The Bloomberg Dollar Index, a gauge against 10 major trading partners, climbed 1.1%, while the Bloomberg Treasury Bond Index rose 1.6%.

On Jan 1, US ranchers held 87.99m head of cattle, according to the average estimate of six analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News. That’s the fewest for the date since 1951 and would mark the seventh straight year of contraction.

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