The U.S. and Mexican cattle and beef industries continue to integrate, building on a long history of trade between the two countries. Mexico has exported feeder cattle to the U.S. for more than a century and continues to do so today. After increasing in the mid-1980s, U.S. imports of Mexican cattle have averaged 1.08 million head for the last 30 years. In the most recent ten years, the average has been slightly higher at 1.14 million head per year. Mexican cattle have added an average of 2.9 percent annually to the U.S. calf crop for the past 30 years, with the percentage slightly higher in recent years as U.S. cattle inventories have declined.
In 2015, imports of Mexican cattle were 1.15 million head, up 3.5 percent year over year and just slightly higher than the ten year average. Imports dropped sharply at the end of 2015, with November down 29.7 percent and December down 36.4 percent compared to the same months one year earlier. This decrease in imports of Mexican cattle at the end of 2015 no doubt reflects lower U.S. cattle prices but also likely is a result of tight cattle supplies in Mexico. Lower U.S. cattle prices reduce the incentive to export cattle from Mexico but this is partially offset by the rapid erosion in the value of the Mexican Peso at the end of 2015, which keeps U.S. cattle prices relatively higher in Mexico. Despite indications of declining cattle numbers in Mexico, record high U.S. prices combined with a weakening Peso kept U.S. imports of Mexican cattle high through 2014 and most of 2015. Domestic Mexican cattle supplies have also been boosted by increased imports of cattle from Central America.Read more