The Russian invasion of Ukraine has led to far-reaching impacts on commodity markets across the globe. In particular, oil and grain prices have surged which contributes to increases in the cost of production throughout livestock supply chains. Feeder cattle futures prices have dropped roughly $10 per CWT since mid-February depending on the contract (though prices were higher in Monday trading).
Near term corn prices have jumped by around a dollar per bushel in the past few weeks. As shown in the chart above, the May 2022 CME corn futures contract closed last week at $7.50 per bushel. Higher corn prices generally put pressure on feeder cattle prices since feeder cattle and corn are two primary inputs into producing fed cattle. Poultry and hog producers of course also feel the brunt of higher feed prices. Corn futures contracts expiring further in the future have also increased though not by the same magnitude. For example, the December 2022 CME corn futures contract closed last week at $6.30 which is up about $0.40 above mid-February.
Cattle prices are caught in the broader uncertainty and market volatility. Many input prices were already high compared to recent years. The severity and length of time that higher feed costs will persist are key questions without good answers. Feed costs (among other inputs) will be higher in the near term. Planting season is just around the corner in the U.S. and the amount of corn planted will be important for supply and price forecasts.