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USDA 10-year projection sees 10% more beef cowsUSDA 10-year projection sees 10% more beef cows

By 2025, USDA projects the U.S. beef cow herd will be 33.2 million head. The inventory of beef cows at the start of this year was 30.3 million head.

Wes Ishmael

March 5, 2016

2 Min Read
USDA 10-year projection sees 10% more beef cows

If USDA’s Agricultural Projections to 2025—released in February—are close to being in the ballpark, there will be more beef cows in this country by 2025 (33.2 million) than since 2006 (33.3 million head).

For comparison, the 30.3 million beef cows at the beginning of this year represented a 4% increase year to year.

For beef cattle, analysts with USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) explain, “Lower feed prices than in the past several years raise producer returns and, coupled with improved pasture, provide incentives for herd expansion in the cattle sector and increases in beef production over the projection period.”  

The projections see a total U.S. cattle inventory of 97 million head by 2025. Total inventory at the beginning of this year was 92 million.


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The projected 5-Area Steer price declines from $141.75 per cwt this year to $121.63 in 2025.

Along with increased beef production, the USDA projections see increased pork and poultry production.

“As production increases, consumption of red meats and poultry is projected to rise from about 211 pounds per person in 2015 to about 219 pounds toward the end of the projection period,” ERS analysts say. “Nominal prices for beef cattle, hogs, and broilers are projected to decline through most of the next decade as production levels for overall meats rise. Livestock prices begin to level off and increase slightly toward the end of the projection period as production gains for beef, pork, and poultry slow and exports continue to grow.”

Predicting the future is always iffy business, no matter how rational the assumptions. In this case, USDA’s assumptions for their projections include global real economic growth over the next decade an average of 3.1%.

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