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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


closeup of a cattle in a field

Trump delivers trade blows

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

President Trump quickly shattered any final hopes U.S. cattle producers had that he would relent on his pledges to withdraw the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership or leave NAFTA alone. Now they and other ag groups will have to persuade the administration to open up export markets in other ways as quickly as possible. Many […] Read more



Black Aberdeen Angus cow at pasture in England

Genetic improvement lays the foundation

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

Ask any winemaker how he or she produces a great drinking experience and all reply “It starts in the vineyard.” The same is true of the beef industry. A great beef eating experience starts on the ranch or farm. And just like constantly improving the quality of the grape, it should include upgrading the genetic […] Read more


cattle in a feedlot

A year of green grass and more

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

Another year has begun and expectations on both sides of the border are for a decent year. Cow-calf producers hope for a mild winter but enough snow to produce a lot of green grass this spring and a good calving season. Cattle feeders hope to see more feeder cattle and a more stable live cattle […] Read more