The chief economist for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association has released his outlook for 2011. Gregg Doud says this year's report was much tougher to write because - the variables are so vast that it is nearly impossible to sort the wheat from the chaff. But two areas of interest to agriculture surface this year. The economy and trade as it affects the beef industry.
Concerning the economy, Doud says that historically, nearly 50% of U.S. beef consumption has occurred outside of the home. But the current downturn could be turning around as the National Restaurant Association's Restaurant Performance Index in October was pegged at its highest level since September 2007 with both sales and traffic levels improving. This bodes well for beef demand in 2011.
Concerning trade, Doud says the Cow that Stole Christmas back in 2003, and others, continue to affect the U.S. cattle industry. Doud says it is impossible to know exactly how much these additional sales opportunities have cost beef producers. The resultant loss of export market access has reduced the number of cattle fed as well as the demand for feeder cattle and cows. These lost exports have cost everyone in the beef industry dearly and they're still costing us today.