Cattle market report

Activity was on the quiet side at auction yards across the province during the week ended June 7. Only a handful of Manitoba’s cattle markets held sales, as marketings slow down heading into the summer.

Of the sales that were held at Winnipeg, Brandon, Virden and Grunthal, volumes were varied, ranging from as little as 275 cattle to as many as 904.

Marketings are slowing down because farmers in Manitoba are focusing more on finishing seeding and doing field work. According to the June 3 crop report from Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives, seeding progress was about 80 to 95 per cent complete across the province.

The auction yards that were closed, including Ste. Rose, Ashern, Killarney and Gladstone are preparing to shut down for the summer. See the summer schedule table for upcoming sale dates.

Activity is expected to be on the quieter side until the fall, with only four auction marts staying open throughout the summer months, and not necessarily holding sales every week. Most of those auction yards will attempt to hold weekly sales, though if numbers are too small they will cancel.

The feeder cattle that came on to the market during the week were selling for slightly stronger prices compared to the week prior.

Harold Unrau, of Grunthal Livestock Auction Mart, noted the strength in prices was due to better-quality cattle coming on to the market compared to the week prior.

All of the buying in Grunthal came from local buyers, as they were purchasing grass cattle now that they’re able to put them out to pasture.

“Grass is growing and we’ve had some good moisture here this spring,” said Unrau.

There was likely routine eastern and western demand seen at other auction yards in Manitoba, as well as some demand from the U.S. However, U.S. buyers are being cautious, as issues surrounding mandatory country-of-origin labelling (COOL) in the U.S. are still unresolved.

Unrau expects prices will continue to be steady to strong throughout the summer, and noted buying should remain steady.

“I think prices will stay steady until we have some new crop in, and then I think they’ll probably climb,” he said. “But it depends on the crop.”

So far, planting has been delayed for the new crops in Western Canada, which could mean later harvests, but yields and quality will depend on the weather throughout the growing season.

Saskatchewan has managed to catch up to its average planting pace, while Manitoba and Alberta were almost done as of early June.

Because the crops were planted a bit later, it was hotter, therefore some plants managed to emerge at the normal time as well. Crops also benefited from timely rains in the early part of the growing season.

If crop progress continues smoothly, there will be more feed supplies around in Western Canada in the fall, which will help relieve the tight supply situation and therefore take some pressure off cattle markets in Manitoba.

Prices on the slaughter side of the market were steady during the week, with continued support coming from strong demand as grilling season is well underway in North America.

Slaughter cattle numbers were starting to drop off at some auction yards and should continue that trend throughout the summer.

Trader assets frozen by U.S. court

U.S. regulators have obtained a court order freezing the assets of a Thailand-based trader, saying he reaped $3.2 million in illegal profits after getting a tip ahead of the announcement that a Chinese meat company was buying Smithfield Foods Inc.

The Securities and Exchange Commission said Badin Rungruangnavarat, 30, may have received the tip from a Facebook friend.

Shuanghui International Holdings, China’s largest meat processor, said last week it was buying U.S. pork producer Smithfield for $4.7 billion.

The agency said the friend is an associate director at a Thai investment bank that was advising a Shuanghui rival, Charoen Pokphand Foods Plc, which was also exploring a bid for Smithfield.

The SEC said Rungruangnavarat reaped $3.2 million in profits by trading Smithfield “out of the money” call options and single-stock futures in an account at Interactive Brokers LLC shortly before the announcement.

“Rungruangnavarat essentially cornered the market in Smithfield call options and futures contracts,” the SEC said in the complaint.

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