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BrownfieldAgNews reports:

The fed cattle market is finally back to profitable levels, the first profits many producers have seen for more than two years.

"We've got the export business coming around again. We've got the tighter supplies, we've got better pork prices, we had this weather event over the winter here-and the combination is that, seasonally, we've got a tight thing coming at us here in April," explains Gregg Doud, chief economist with the National Cattlemen's Beef Association.

"It's finally got us in a situation where the domestic retailer is getting a little bit of a squeeze here-he's having to come get it and the market is responding."

Doud says one of the biggest differences between this year and last year is the improvement in the pork supply and demand situation.

"We're getting (pork) exports fired back up again to China and to Russia. Pork prices are much, much higher than they were a year ago here in the U.S.," says Doud. "That takes a lot of pressure off the meat complex that we had a year ago at this time. We had that rope as tight as we could get it between beef and pork prices-and we just couldn't seem to get away from that."

Doud says that will be positive for the cattle market going into spring and summer this year. But he says sustained profits for beef producers still depend on how quickly the general economy recovers.

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