I like the final few paragraphs... where it showed that during the Canadian BSE crisis US feeder prices went up 25%,... which is inexplicable from a pure supply/demand perspective.. the packers were using Canadian beef imports as an EXCUSE to pay less.. and exactly the same is happening with Brazilian/Argentinian beef now.. that is a serious problem and it's not good for the beef producers on either side! (I believe oil prices are similarly manipulated).
The same story repeated itself with the droughts in Texas a couple years ago, and the subsequent "shortage" of cattle... both of them exaggeratedly affected prices, and the ploy was to drive up retail prices.. Now that (farm gate) prices have come back down, they're sure taking their sweet time reducing retail prices to bump up demand again (Again..happens with oil as well).
The one thing that would help me the most is STABLE prices.. Where I could bank on next year, or 5 years from now that I get a fair shake on my calves.. But that goes against everything the speculators need.. wild fluctuations!
I don't ever plan on getting a loan.. but if it came down to it, I'd be much more inclined to if I had stable markets to make a major investment.. As it stands, you better save every extra penny during a good year because you might not get another for a decade.