WASHINGTON – Combined with further extending the 2009 fall harvest of grains, cold, snowy weather in the Plains states is increasing winter feeding costs and death losses in beef cattle while reducing cattle gains, according to the most recent Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service. The result is declines in average dressed weights beyond typical seasonal declines and a slight increase in cattle and beef prices.

Late in 2009, U.S. beef exports benefited from improved demand in Asian markets, and 2009 total exports are expected to decline only slightly from 2008. Beef imports into the U.S. have been lower in the latter half of 2009 compared with high levels in the first half. Higher imports of Mexican cattle late in 2009 increased the total number of cattle imported into the U.S.

Hog productivity increases and a smaller-than-expected decline in fall farrowings are likely to offset most effects of lower Dec. 1 breeding inventories. Although pork production in 2010 will be year-over-year lower, reductions will probably be smaller than those forecasted last month. November pork exports were more than 11% ahead of exports in November 2008.