USDA released its annual Cattle inventory report last week and the report confirmed that, although the U.S. cattle herd was still growing during 2017, the rate of growth slowed sharply compared to recent years. The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) estimated that the January 1 inventory of all cattle and calves totaled 94.4 million head, up less than 1% compared to a year earlier when the inventory was 93.7 million head. This compares to inventory increases of nearly 2% during 2016 and just over 3% in 2015.
Increases in the beef cow inventory the last two years have been somewhat larger than in the all cattle and calves inventory. For example, during 2016 the beef cow inventory increased 3.5% followed by a 1.6% increase during 2017. Still, it is clear that cow herd inventory growth slowed sharply during 2017 compared to the peak inventory growth years of 2015 and 2016.
In February’s USDA World Agriculture Supply and Demand Estimates Report (WASDE), domestic corn ending stocks fell to 2.352 billion bushels, U.S. soybean ending stocks climbed to 530 million bushels and wheat ending stocks here in the states were raised to 1.009 billion bushels.
For U.S. soybeans in particular, this was the third straight WASDE report with a negative tinge and Mike Zuzolo with Global Commodity Analytics says some new factors may have farmers taking a second look at what they plant in 2018.