Derrell S. Peel, Oklahoma State University Extension Livestock Marketing Specialist
The integration of beef and cattle markets in North America includes trade in live cattle between Canada, Mexico, and the U.S. The most recent monthly trade data adds to the picture of cattle flows for the period January – July this year. For the year to date, U.S. cattle imports total 951,910 head, down 6.3 percent year over year. Total cattle exports thus far in 2022 are 192,415 head, down 36.7 percent from the record cattle export total last year. Net cattle imports for the January – July period are 759.495 head, up 6.7 percent year over year.
Cattle imports from Mexico for the year to date are down 30.2 percent year over year. The seven-month year to date total of 488,449 head is the smallest for the period since 2009. Over 99 percent of cattle imports from Mexico consist of feeder cattle, which includes 84.6 percent steers and 15.4 percent heifers thus far in 2022. Cattle exports to Mexico for the year to date include 64,226 head, up 73.7 percent year over year, of which 79.9 percent are feeder cattle, with the remainder purebred beef and dairy animals. Net cattle imports from Mexico are down 36.0 percent from last year.
Cattle imports from Canada include both slaughter and feeder cattle. For the January – July period, total cattle imports from Canada are 463,461 head, up 46.7 percent year over year. This total includes 307,302 head of slaughter cattle consisting of 40.1 percent slaughter cows/bulls and 59.9 percent fed steers and heifers. Imports of slaughter cows/bulls are up 13.8 percent year over year and imports of fed cattle are up 28.4 percent over last year. A total of 146,845 head of feeder cattle have been imported from Canada in the first seven months of the year, with heifers making up 78.9 percent of total feeder imports. Feeder cattle imports are up 152.6 percent year over year for the January – July period.
U.S. exports of feeder cattle to Canada account for 96.2 percent of the total 120,594 head of cattle exports to Canada in the January – July period this year. This is down 52.7 percent from the record level of cattle exports to Canada in 2021. Combined net feeder cattle imports from Mexico and Canada are down 2.7 percent year over year for the first seven months of 2022.
Although cattle imports and export totals sound large in absolute numbers, the role of imported cattle is rather modest in domestic markets. Imports of slaughter cows/bulls for the first seven months of 2022 accounted for 2.8 percent of total cow and bull slaughter in the U.S. during the period. Imported fed cattle accounted for 1.2 percent of total steer and heifer slaughter during the same period. Net imports of feeder cattle from Mexico and Canada from January – July represented 1.3 percent of the estimated feeder supply on July 1.