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USDA bumps total meat production higher

Cattle, hog and broiler price forecasts raised on continued demand strength.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's March “World Agricultural Supply & Demand Estimates” report increased the forecast for total U.S. meat production for 2017 to 100.74 billion lb., noting that the higher forecast for beef production more than offset lower forecasts for pork and turkey production.

The broiler production forecast was unchanged from the previous month, at 41.53 billion lb.

USDA raised its estimate for first-quarter beef production based on current slaughter data and for third-quarter production as higher first-quarter placements are marketed in the second half of the year. However, USDA said carcass weights for the year are projected to be lower as feedlot operators are expected to remain current in their marketings. Total 2017 beef production was raised to 26.25 billion lb.

The pork production forecast, at 26.11 billion lb., was slightly lower than the previous month as a result of lighter carcass weights in the first half of the year. USDA will release the “Quarterly Hogs & Pigs” report March 30, which will provide an indication of producer intentions for farrowings in the next two quarters.

Small changes were made to 2016 poultry production estimates, reflecting recent data revisions. For 2017, USDA decreased the turkey production forecast to 6.09 billion lb. on expectations for slower second-half production growth.

Egg production estimates for 2015 and 2016 reflected recent agency statistics revisions. The 2017 forecast for egg production was raised to 8.780 billion doz.

The forecast for 2017 beef imports was unchanged, but USDA raised the export forecast on stronger-than-expected export shipments in the quarter thus far.

Pork imports were lowered for 2017, reflecting larger domestic supplies and limited demand for foreign product. However, USDA raised the pork export forecast based on robust international demand and large domestic supplies of pork.

No change was made to the broiler and turkey trade forecasts. However, USDA lowered the egg export forecast as South Korea's ban on imports of U.S. poultry and products -- due to the recent U.S. outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza -- is expected to limit export growth.

USDA raised 2017 cattle, hog and broiler price forecasts from last month based on continued demand strength. The 2017 turkey price forecast was lowered because the first-quarter price forecast was reduced. The egg price forecast also was lowered from last month on current price movements.

The 2017 milk production forecast was raised to 217.5 billion lb. as milk cow numbers are expected to increase more rapidly, USDA said. However, growth in milk per cow was reduced based on January data.

Dairy exports on a fat basis for 2017 were unchanged, while skim-solids basis exports were lowered due to expected strong competition in international skim milk powder markets. Forecasts for both fat basis and skim-solids basis imports were unchanged. Ending stocks for 2017 are projected to be unchanged on a fat basis but higher on a skim-solids basis due to increased production of dairy products and weaker exports. Historical milk production and stock estimates reflected recently released revisions.

USDA reduced the cheese price forecast for 2017 as stocks of cheese are high and are expected to pressure prices. The butter price forecast was raised based on continued demand strength. The nonfat dry milk price is projected to be lower on expectations for slower export growth due to increased competition from global competitors. The higher whey price forecast reflects recent market strength.

The Class III price was raised as the higher whey price will more than outweigh the reduced cheese price, USDA noted. The Class IV price forecast was lowered, reflecting the weaker nonfat dry milk price that will more than offset the higher butter price. The all milk price for 2017 is projected to be $17.80-18.40/cwt.

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