By Joanna Levin

STATESIDE beef prices continued to drop this week, despite hopes for a rebound in feeder cattle prices on the back of cheaper corn.

The cash market for live cattle lost one cent on the week to 59¢/lb in Texas. Feeder cattle prices have fallen sharply from 76.25¢ in early June and 82.5¢/lb in December 1997.

The August feeder cattle contract on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange closed on Tuesday (21 July) at 69.47¢/lb and is widely expected to remain weak in coming days.

Prices have suffered in the wake of news that the overcrowding in Americas feedlots is worse than expected.

The number of cattle on feed in feedlots with a capacity of over 1000 head rose 2% year-on-year to 9.16 million cattle on 1 July, according to recently released statistics.

The figure represents a worrying 17% increase over the feedlot population two years ago. The number of feeder cattle entering the feedlots last month rose 8% from year-earlier figures to 1.56 million

The year-on-year number of fed cattle leaving the feedlots to go to the packing houses was almost unchanged at 2.03 million.

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