January 26, 2004



USDA Says Beef Exports To Plunge 92% in 2004


The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has forecast US beef exports during 2004 to total 99,790 tonnes cwt, 92% (1,188,000 tonnes cwt) below the volume in 2003. 


Late last year, the USDA forecasted US beef exports to rise 1.3% in the 2004 calendar year.  The USDA has assumed in its forecasts that the current restrictions imposed on imported US beef will apply for the whole of this calendar year.


Since the announcement on 23 December of a positive case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in a Washington State cow, nearly all US beef importing countries have placed bans on imported US beef. 


The diversion of product previously exported onto the US market and expected falls in domestic beef prices have contributed to an upward revision in the projected US beef consumption rate in 2004 to 30.7kg per capita, compared to the original estimates of 28.3kg per capita. 


US cattle prices, which were originally forecast to rise in 2004, should fall according to the latest estimates.  US Choice steer prices are expected to average 75US¢/lb, 14% below pre-BSE estimates, with feeder steer prices averaging 83.5US¢/lb, down 11%.  However, these are both still historically high and above 2002 levels.


A 3% fall in beef production in 2004 to 11,521,000 tonnes cwt, and in particular tight cow beef supplies have factored into an estimated 20% rise in US beef and veal imports, to 1,556,000 tonnes cwt.



Source: USDA

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