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Are Family Farms Dying?

Because fewer children want to follow in their parents' footsteps and take over the family farm, there's a cattle shortage. That is driving up the price of cattle at auction to record highs.

The family farmer is a dying breed, according to USDA. Every year the agency reports a decline in the number of farming operations across the country, and it's a problem in Missouri, too.  Between 2009 and 2011, Missouri lost 1,500 farms and 200,000 acres of farmland.

Riley Coble learned to carry milk buckets about the same time he learned to walk. That's life on the family farm. Riley, his mom, and his two brothers work there. They're the wife and sons of Bob Coble's youngest son -- the only son who wanted to take over the family business.

"I have four boys and three of them are working in town," Coble explains.
With more people quitting the business, cattle numbers are shrinking. Surprisingly, the cattle shortage has actually had the opposite effect on the stockyards. On an average Wednesday, which is the busiest sale day of the week for the Springfield Livestock Marketing Center, 2,400 cattle will be sold.

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