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Tyson fire leaves province’s cattle markets unscathed

Cattle futures dropped in the Kansas fire’s wake

The exterior of the Tyson Fresh Meats processing plant is seen three days after a fire heavily damaged the facility in the Finney County town of Holcomb, Kansas, Aug. 12, 2019.

Prices at cattle auction markets in Manitoba were mostly steady for feeder cattle during the week ended Aug. 16 — and Harold Unrau of Grunthal Livestock Auction Mart expects that to remain the case for the time being.

Last week, at Brandon’s Heartland Livestock Auction, 700- to 800-lb. feeder steers went for between $193 and $205 per hundredweight. Similarly this week, they went for between $190 and $205/cwt.

“Feeder cattle will remain steady, unless our dollar gets stronger or grain prices rise,” Unrau said.

As long as cattle futures remain steady, he said, market prices should follow suit.

Futures took about a US$4 hit earlier this week after a fire devastated a Tyson plant near Holcomb, Kansas. Unrau said the drop in futures prices is likely “temporary.”

Carson Callum, general manager of Manitoba Beef Producers, agreed that “Cattle futures did decline following the fire, but appear to be coming back up.”

The plant typically processed approximately 30,000 head of fed cattle per week.

“With all the things happening in the marketplace right now, it’s hard to say how this will impact the market long term up here,” Callum said.

“It will depend on how long the Tyson plant is out of commission, as those cattle will need to be moved somewhere until the plant comes back online.”

The Kansas Livestock Association said “the industry will need to absorb that total,” and Unrau agreed.

“I think it will stabilize, they’ll just have to reroute some cattle,” he remarked.

Transportation cost associated with shipping fed cattle to processing plants may be a factor, however.

Producers “will have to haul their fat cattle further to get to a different plant, but I think it’ll be a temporary blip.”

About the author

Glacier MarketsFarm

Marlo Glass

Marlo Glass writes for MarketsFarm, a Glacier FarmMedia division specializing in grain and commodity market analysis and reporting.



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