Cattle futures for June delivery fell by the exchange limit of 3 cents, or 2.6 percent, to settle at $1.11575 a pound at 1 p.m. April 24 on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange after news broke of a dairy cow infected with mad-cow disease in California. The price is the lowest level since July 1, 2011 and the biggest percentage drop on a most-active contract since May 23, 2011.
“It’s all fear,” said Chad Henderson, a market analyst for Prime Agricultural Consultants Inc. “I don’t know if it’s going to affect beef demand much. The problem is the perception will run this market right now.” Prices fell 21 percent in December 2003, when the U.S. government confirmed a case of mad-cow disease had been found. U.S. beef shipments then dropped 82 percent to 460.3 million pounds in 2004 as importers shunned the meat.
A chain reaction could affect grain prices, as well. Corn futures dropped 0.7 percent to close at $6.08 a bushel at 1:15 p.m. April 24 on the Chicago Board of Trade.