While the heart of the auction season is several weeks away, ranchers are seeing prices up an estimated five to 10 per cent higher than last year — part of a longer-term recovering trend in the industry.
Tom Vicars, general manager of B.C. Livestock Producers Co-operative Association, said Wednesday both sales and volumes of cattle are strong this fall, coming into the peak season at the end of October.
“They’re better than they were last year,” Vicars said, estimating gains for producers between five and 10 per cent. “Heavier calves seem to be strong this fall. It’s good demand for everything.”
The most recent local sale was Tuesday in Kamloops.
Following seven years of poor prices after BSE was discovered in Canada in 2003, prices for cattle began to improve and have been trending upwards.
Ranch owner Agnes Jackson, who sits on several industry boards and now leases out her lands off Highway 5A, said the improving prices come on top of good range and hay conditions this year.
“They yearling market’s much better than it has been,” Jackson said. “It should be profitable. They’ve had a good grass year.”
That came primarily from steady rains in June.
Local rancher Peter Phillip agreed growing conditions and an improving market are helping the Interior industry after difficult years.
On the other side, however, ranchers continue to face higher cost pressures for equipment and fuel, in particular.
“We’re still playing catch-up.”
Vicars said volumes of cattle going through the auction house on the east side of Kamloops are up over last year, likely part of normal fluctuation and not part of a trend to larger herds.
Phillip also doesn’t see larger herds or more ranching activity.
“One reason is the average age of producers is getting up there. A lot are getting older and just hanging on before they retire.”
Vicars said cattle prices are also being pushed higher by lower grain prices, which create lower costs for feedlots. Those lower costs give feedlots more flexibility on purchase pricing.