As we close out the year, I have heard many people comment that the best day of 2020 may be Dec. 31, when we said goodbye to this year and welcome the new year with open arms. We will surely not forget 2020, which has been a year for the history books. I’m sure we can all think of a long list of challenges that this year has presented — but what if, instead, we focus on the positives this year has brought us? Maybe you welcomed a new grandchild into the family, got a project done around the farm or ranch that feels good to have completed, or tried some new recipes at home that have made it to the top of the list. Or maybe 2020 resulted in one of the healthiest groups of calves you have had in a number of years or fewer open cows at pregnancy check. Big or small, there is always a silver lining and something to be grateful for. This year, however, those positives may be overshadowed by the series of events that continue to make headlines and that have impacted us all in some form.
What can we learn from 2020, and how can we continue to move forward?
Those involved in agriculture are resilient. The agriculture community is made up of people who are tough, innovative, supportive and can think on their feet while simultaneously being proactive by planning for events and decisions that will need to be made down the road. These are all traits that will keep the industry moving forward. Whether by adapting to new technologies, trying out a new system that could make our lives easier or hiring an additional ranch hand, adjustments may need to be made to continue hitting the goals we set for our operation and to continue being successful.
To successfully move forward, we can’t expect to put things back together the way they were pre-COVID. Markets may look different going forward, and how you interact with customers may evolve in some way. Regardless, it will be better. What we have learned from this year is that things can change quickly, and we need to find ways to adapt and keep moving forward for ourselves, the next generation and the success of our businesses in the coming year and into the future.
What can we expect for 2021?
As we look ahead at what to expect into the new year, packers are mostly back on their feet and running similarly to pre-COVID levels. A few small-scale plants are expected to be constructed to increase packing capacity even further. Both 2019 and 2020 were years of liquidation for the U.S. cow herd, and cow slaughter continues to be up. Much of the reduction in numbers over the past year and as we move into 2021 is due to drought conditions across many areas of the U.S.
Each year, CattleFax holds an outlook seminar that includes an overview of the expected changes in the marketplace, as well as a session about the weather outlook for the next year. This year, Dr. Art Douglas presented his projections for the La Niña pattern we are currently experiencing, which is set to continue for the next two years, leading to drier conditions that may be similar to the drought of 2011–2013. This will impact not only the U.S. but also the drier growing seasons across many parts of the world, including the major grain regions, such as Brazil, Argentina and India.
While cow numbers are decreasing, the beef industry is moving to the back side of the cattle cycle. This will likely help drive cattle prices, with annual price projections looking favorable across many segments of the industry, including calves, stockers and fed cattle. This should bring more profitability back to the beef business — something we all like to hear!
Additionally, the high demand for beef will continue, as we are able to provide consumers with better-quality products with improved consistency. According to Kevin Good, vice president of industry relations and analysis at CattleFax, in 2020, around 83% of U.S. beef was graded prime and choice —compared to 67% only seven years ago in 2013. Overall, beef demand continues to be strong, and we will continue producing for our growing population and will see exports staying strong as well. We have a quality product to sell and a great story to tell!
As we move into the new year, think about the things that are within your control for your business or operation. Whether by learning more about the benefits of Blueprint® nutrition, being more proactive in getting fly-control supplements out to your cow herd before flies become a problem or trying out a stress block to improve the weaning performance of your calves, let us at CRYSTAYLX® know how we can help you achieve your goals during these challenging times. Our hindsight is 20/20, and 2020 is now in our rearview mirror. Let’s work together for a prosperous new year. With CRYSTALYX, performance will continue to be served in 2021.