Latest articles


Drought might end further expansion

Prime Cuts with Steve Kay

Beef cattle producers in North America largely owe their livelihoods to a simple but precious crop — grass. The more they have, the more they expand their herds because no producer can bear to see pasture being underutilized. The less they have, the more likely they are to cut their numbers. Producers in the U.S. […] Read more


Lower cattle prices are coming

Prime Cuts with Steve Kay

Cattle feeders in Canada and the U.S. enjoyed a much more profitable 2017 than expected, in large part due to strong beef demand in North America and globally. They will again rely on strong demand and no disruption to the NAFTA provisions for beef and cattle trade because U.S. slaughter levels and beef production will […] Read more



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