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More Beef Production than Predicted

As a result, producers will see lower than expected steer prices in 2008.

U.S beef production was expected this year to be about even with 2007, but it seems it may be slightly higher than previously thought. Agriculture Department World Outlook Board Chairman Gerry Bange has increased his forecast for beef production by about 1.5 million pounds.

"Primarily because we've seen some increased cow slaughter in the Southeast and that really reflects drought conditions and tight supplies of hay, and pasture and so forth," Bange says. "Also we've seen some increase in dairy cow slaughter, which we think really relates to the freshening of the herd as opposed to any liquidation effort."

The high price of feed may be sending more cattle to slaughter sooner than expected, which will result in lower price expectations. Estimates are that it will be 73 cents a hundredweight lower than before, at $90.15 on average, about a 2% drop from last year.

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