2020 average prices for Choice Steers are estimated at $111.00/cwt., marking the second year of declines. Many Northeast beef producers serve specialty markets and receive higher prices than national estimates.
Recent disruptions to meatpacking facilities due to workers contracting coronavirus has had the unusual effect of increasing retail prices for meats, while at the same time, reducing prices received by farmers, due to reduced processing capacity. This has resulted in strong margins for packers, but lower prices for producers. There is major concern about overall processing capacity and what that will mean for beef producers and dairy producers marketing their cull cows. Dairy cull cow prices have fallen as farmers try to reduce their herds. Prices have ranged from $48-$54/cwt. or lower.
The egg market is experiencing significant turmoil, with prices for shell eggs up significantly due to increased retail sales. However, other producers are simultaneously experiencing a loss of their market due to the disruption to food service markets.
The thaw between the U.S. and China on trade, coupled with the impact of African Swine Fever on the Chinese pork sector has the potential to boost U.S. protein exports, although we will probably not see this until the coronavirus subsides. In addition, like beef, pork processing capacity has also been impacted by the coronavirus.