Get Ready for Even Higher Milk and Beef Prices

24/7 Wall St.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released its preliminary report on April farm prices Wednesday afternoon. The all-products price index rose by 4 points month-over-month (4.3%) to 115, with the crop index up 4.3% and the livestock index up 3.1%. The April all-products index is up 7.5% year-over-year. The index uses prices from 2011 as its base value (100).

The USDA noted that April’s higher prices for feeder pigs, complete feeds, hay, and feeder cattle offset lower prices for supplies like diesel fuel, herbicides, and insecticides. Prices paid by farmers in the month rose to an index reading of 112 for the second consecutive month, up 2 points compared with March and 6 points compared with April 2013.

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Both corn and wheat prices remain significantly lower than they were a year ago. The big increases in farm prices have come in dairy and meat, both of which are sharply higher than they were a year ago. Dairy prices rose 1.6% in April and are now 31% higher than they were a year ago. Prices for pork and beef are up 3.1% month-over-month and meat prices are 27% higher compared with April 2013.

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Milk prices continue to rise the most. The April price of $25.50 per hundredweight is up $6.00 (about 31%) compared with the price in March 2013, and up $0.50 month-over-month.

Prices for fed cattle reached $1.49 a pound in April, up just $0.01 for the month, but $0.24 per pound (16%) more in a year. The demand for beef continues to exceed supply.

Hog prices rose $0.97 a pound (12%) in April, and is up $0.298 a pound at $0.916 in the past 12 months, a whopping 48%.

Here is how some agriculture-related ETFs are trading today:

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The Market Vectors Agribusiness ETF (MOO) is up 0.42% at $54.65 in a 52-week range of $48.75 to $55.29.

The PowerShares DB Agriculture fund (DBA) trades down 0.34% at $29.28 in a 52-week range of $24.04 to $29.41. The high was posted the high yesterday.

The Teucrium Corn Fund (CORN) is down about 0.4% today at $35.36 in a 52-week range of $29.50 to $43.00. Prices began to trend upward in January and are now up 16% year-to-date.

The Teucrium Wheat Fund (WEAT) trades up more than 1% on Wednesday at $17.09 in a 52-week range is $13.31 to $19.50, and similar to the corn price, is up more than 15% since the beginning of the year.

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