2018 was another interesting year for the cattle markets.

Anne Wasko, President of Cattle Trends, says the strong basis in the cattle markets in 2018 was key for producers and the industry as a whole.

“That’s on all classes of cattle - finished cattle, feeder cattle; calves even cows; even though cows were lower than they were a year ago. Certainly, the basis, the relationship to the U.S. market was a strong as we’ve ever seen. The fed cattle basis in 2018 in Western Canada was the strongest ever. In simple terms that means prices were as close to the U.S. market as we’ve ever seen.”

Wasko says some of the factors impacting the markets include stronger demand domestically and internationally; as well as the fact that we have seen a move towards a smaller cow herd in Canada, while the U.S. is expanding their herd.

“We had some very strong export markets and we don’t have all of the 2018 data in obviously yet. For example, just in October (our last data), we had Japan up 55%, China/Hong Kong is our Number 3 area in October alone it was up 22% over a year ago. There are some great export/demand pieces. All those things kind of come together and made our Canadian cattle prices stronger than the U.S.”

She sees some exciting things ahead in 2019 with the trade agreements; adding that the basis should continue to play out in Canada’s favor in terms of holding Canadian cattle prices strong.

Wasko is a cattle rancher, market analyst and President of Cattle Trends.

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