The livestock industry had some difficulties in 2020, mainly due to production pivoting from food service markets to retail, as well as complications with meat packing plant shutdowns throughout the year.
2020 average prices for choice steers came in at $108.46/cwt., marking the second year of declines. 2021 average prices are forecast at $115/cwt, showing some recovery, but still coming in below 2018 and 2019. Despite lower farmgate prices for commodity beef, prices for beef marketed to local consumers have generally held steady.
Northeast specialty meat producers have had to pivot away from restaurant markets and toward individual sales to consumers in many cases. While the demand has generally been strong, this has been a challenging adjustment for some.
Seasonal cycles continue to affect slaughter availability in the region, with capacity constraints affecting some Northeast producers.
Egg prices trended higher in 2020. Prices surged in the first quarter but backed off later in the year. Flock sizes have trended downward due to reduced demand from foodservice markets. Feed prices have increased over the past couple of months. The 2020 season average came in at $1.12/doz, compared to $0.94 in 2019. The 2021 forecast is for $1.15/doz.
Pork exports have substantially increased due to rising demand from China. Broiler exports are also higher, but to a lesser extent. Beef and turkey exports declined somewhat in 2020.
Horse racing and recreational equine businesses have been significantly impacted by COVID-19. Attendance at tracks and recreational events has declined due to the pandemic.