Latest articles

NAFTA talks cloud outlook

Prime Cuts with Steve Kay, from the January 2018 issue of Canadian Cattlemen

2017 turned out to be much better than expected for the U.S. red meat industry, and likely the Canadian industry as well. The U.S. industry last January faced a blockbuster protein year. Several equities and other analysts forecast doom and gloom for livestock prices and for profits for publicly traded companies. However, the exact opposite […] Read more

China dangles carrots at U.S. beef industry

Prime Cuts with Steve Kay from the December 2017 issue of Canadian Cattlemen

China is getting increasingly adept at dangling carrots to keep the U.S. at bay. Its latest carrot was to announce on November 9 that it had signed US$253 billion of business deals with U.S. companies. News reports quickly questioned whether the deals will turn into actual business. Buried in the massive total was news that […] Read more

Meat demand is the story of the decade

Prime Cuts with Steve Kay

Lest anyone in the North American livestock industry forget, all wealth to the industry comes from consumers at home and abroad. Cattle and hog producers might feel far removed from those consumers. But they are the people who determine whether producers can make a living or not. The industry to its credit has recognized this […] Read more

meat display in store

Retail beef prices drive cattle sales

Prime Cuts with Steve Kay

The North American beef industry lives or dies by how well beef sells in grocery stores and in restaurants. Retail demand right now, at least in the U.S., is stronger than it has been in quite a number of years. Sales have more than recovered from the challenges in 2014 and 2015 when retail prices […] Read more

A salutory summer slide

Prime Cuts with Steve Kay

It sure was a salutary summer for U.S. cattle feeders who hadn’t hedged their cattle. Fed cattle prices plunged more than US$14 per cwt live from the third week of July to the end of August. Yet the market after that was still struggling to find a bottom. That’s certainly not how anyone expected the […] Read more

Farmers Branding Spring Calves

Drop that branding iron

Prime Cuts with Steve Kay

Hide branding goes back to the very start of the North American cattle industry. Cattle rustling was common for a long time and branding was the only way an owner could identify his stolen cattle. Even then, cowboys or their owners died in gun battles while defending or trying to retrieve their animals. All that […] Read more

Nilssons buys Brooks feedlot

Prime Cuts with Steve Kay

You’ve probably been following the bribery scandal that engulfed Brazil’s Batista family, the majority owners of JBS SA, the world’s largest protein company. You also likely know the Batista family put its Five Rivers Cattle Feeding unit and other assets up for sale to pay for the 10.3 billion reais (US$3.2 billion) fine it must […] Read more

Devil’s in the detail of China-U.S. beef deal

The announcement on May 4 that China will start accepting U.S. beef on or before July 16 had U.S. industry leaders applauding the Trump administration and excited about supplying this giant market. Their enthusiasm was understandable — U.S. beef has been shut out of China since late 2003, when the U.S. reported its first BSE […] Read more

cattle eating at a feedlot

Taking notice of the drivers in cattle markets

Prime Cuts with Steve Kay

When markets behave unexpectedly, it’s valuable to look back and see what the key drivers were to create such conditions. That’s just as true for cattle and beef markets as it is for financial markets. In the case of the first two in the U.S, aggressive feedlot marketings and better than expected beef demand at […] Read more

Salute the brave new owners

Prime Cuts with Steve Kay: From the April 2017 issue of Canadian Cattlemen

Entering the beef processing business is full of risk. Just ask those who have tried and failed over the past 25 years. So it’s worth saluting the owners of two new beef processing companies that have started operations at almost opposite ends of North America. I’m referring to Harmony Beef, which began operations February 27 […] Read more