Cattle numbers in recent years have been increasing, but it appears the cycle is peaking. Last year saw the most cows sent to slaughter in any year since 2013, and a greater number of heifers were sent to feedlots, suggesting fewer producing cows on ranches this year.
Beef production, though, is still expected to grow this year by 1 percent and then soften next year. Domestic beef demand is expected to remain relatively flat and exports are expected to rise to 3.3 billion pounds in 2020. Cattle prices are expected to remain steady to higher. U.S. pork production is also forecast to increase in 2020, up over 1 billion pounds from 2019. Pork exports in 2020 look to increase and domestic per capita consumption is expected to remain the same. Pork prices should also be higher this year.