Livestock Highlights: Top Stories of the Day

Features Dow Jones Newswires

TOP STORIES

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Farmers Circle Wagons to Save $100-a-Cow Tax Deduction

Farmers and ranchers are pushing back on an aspect of the proposed U.S. tax overhaul that could eliminate a widely used deduction when much of the U.S. agriculture sector is struggling.

The tax bills passed by the Senate and the House of Representatives both eliminated a provision in the U.S. tax code that allows members of agricultural cooperatives to reduce their taxable income by deducting some co-op costs.

Grocery Stores Launch New Chicken Lawsuit -- Market Talk

11:28 ET -- A long-running controversy over chicken pricing hatches another lawsuit, as a group of grocery store operators and distributors sue the biggest U.S. chicken processors over alleged collusion. The plaintiffs, which run and service more than 1,700 grocery stores across the country, filed a lawsuit in federal court in Illinois seeking damages related to poultry meat purchases from 2008 through 2016, during which time they say chicken companies surreptitiously reduced production and manipulated a pricing index maintained by Georgia's Agriculture Department, inflating prices for shrink-wrapped chicken breasts and wings. A Tyson spokesman calls the claims "unfounded because we've not done anything wrong." A Perdue Farms spokeswoman declines to comment; officials with Pilgrim's Pride and Sanderson Farms don't respond to requests for comment. (jacob.bunge@wsj.com; @jacobbunge)

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Big Food Sales Volumes Aren't As Bad As Summer -- Market Talk

13:37 ET -- Wall Street analysts say packaged food sales continue to be pressured over the past three months, according to sales data from Nielsen, but trends have improved since the summer. Total food and beverage sales volumes were down for the 12 weeks ended Dec 2. RBC Capital Markets analyst David Palmer attributes the success to the reversal of fresh food-deflation headwinds and easier comparisons against a year ago when they were taking out lackluster items and offering fewer promotions, as the biggest "drivers of the recent center-store grocery and Big Food improvement." (annie.gasparro@wsj.com)

STORIES OF INTEREST

Target to Buy Grocery Delivery Startup Shipt for $550 Million

Target Corp. is paying $550 million to acquire grocery delivery startup Shipt Inc., moving to match services that have been rolled out by rivals Amazon.com Inc. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

Shipt, like rival Instacart, uses thousands of contractors to buy products at retail stores and deliver them to customers. It charges a $99 membership fee and its shoppers buy products from local stores, including grocers like Kroger Co. and Costco Wholesale Corp. Shipt typically sells items at a slight premium to the in-store price, and charges delivery fees for orders of less than $35.

FUTURES MARKETS

Cattle Futures Resume Losing Streak, Supplies Weigh on Prices

Cattle futures fell, giving back early gains as growing supplies weighed down prices.

Market observers said more cattle on feed are reaching slaughter size, meaning a larger supply of fattened animals ready for processing into beef. That is allowing meatpackers to lower bids and push cash prices lower for physical cattle.

December-dated live cattle futures fell 0.4% to $1.1565 a pound at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange on Wednesday, after opening higher. Prices rose on Tuesday for the first time after eight consecutive sessions lower.

Hog futures rose, despite pressure on both cash and meat prices. CME December lean hog contracts gained 0.3% to 63.95 cents a pound.

CASH MARKETS

Zumbrota, Minn Hog Steady At $36.00 - Dec 13

Barrow and gilt prices at the Zumbrota, Minn., livestock market today are steady at $36.00 a hundredweight.

Sow prices are steady. Sows weighing 400-450 pounds are at $28.00-$30.00, 450-500 pounds are $28.00-$30.00 and those over 500 pounds are $32.00-$34.00.

The day's total run is estimated at 200 head.

Prices are provided by the Central Livestock Association.

Estimated U.S. Pork Packer Margin Index - Dec 13

All figures are on a per-head basis.

Date Standard Margin Estimated margin

Operating Index at vertically -

integrated operations

*

Dec 13 +$35.91 +$33.23

Dec 12 +$43.43 +$42.82

Dec 11 +$42.01 +$43.96

* Based on Iowa State University's latest estimated cost of production.

A positive number indicates a processing margin above the cost of production of the animals.

Beef-O-Meter

This report compares the USDA's latest beef carcass composite

values as a percentage of their respective year-ago prices.

Beef

For Today Choice 106.8

(Percent of Year-Ago) Select 106.4

USDA Boxed Beef, Pork Reports

Wholesale choice-grade beef prices Wednesday fell $1.58 per hundred pounds, to $202.48, according to the USDA. Select-grade prices fell 90 cents per hundred pounds, to $185.02. The total load count was 153. Wholesale pork prices fell $4.46, to $75.86 a hundred pounds, based on Omaha, Neb., price quotes.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

December 13, 2017 17:54 ET (22:54 GMT)