Livestock Marketing Information Center

Current Situation and Analysis
Last Updated: 6/12/2017
U.S. Dairy Cow Herd Creeps Higher

     USDA-NASS (National Agricultural Statistics Service) estimated that the U.S. milk cow herd increased by 8,000 head in April from the prior month. That was up 69,000 head from twelve months earlier, or slightly less than a 1% gain. Of the 23 leading dairy states, no state reported a decline in cow numbers from March.  Texas dairy cow numbers went up the most month-over-month, increasing by 3,000 head.  During March, dairies added 17,000 cows, the biggest increase since a similar jump three years ago and the 19,000 head increase in January 2011.

Grocery Store Sales Growth Tops Restaurant and Foodservice

     U.S. food sector retail sales in April increased 2.7% from a year ago, but that was down from a 3.9% year-over-year gain for March. Retail sales across the entire economy for April were up 3.1%. Food sector sales growth has run below trends for the economy since last October, mostly due to a plateau in foodservice and restaurant sales. In April, food service, restaurant and drinking place sales were up 2.2% from the prior April. Grocery store sales were up 3.3%.

Cattle Feeding Returns Surge

     The LMIC has been estimating monthly cattle feeding returns for commercial Southern Plains feeding since the mid 1970’s. There can be lots of debate/discussion of the calculation assumptions made in estimating returns (LMIC’s are not based on surveys of producers).  LMIC’s were developed to facilitate market analysis and the assumptions are rather fixed, for example the animal being fed-out is always a 750-pound steer. Monthly average cash market steer prices reported by USDA-AMS (Agricultural Marketing Service, Market News Division) are used. Results provide a barometer (e.g.