Beef Magazine is part of the Informa Markets Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Sitemap


Articles from 2014 In December


2014 – It was truly a year to remember

2014 – It was truly a year to remember

The year 2014 is a year most U.S. beef producers wouldn’t mind reliving, and some aspects of it are likely to continue. Better pasture conditions overall, record cattle market prices, and surprisingly strong beef demand in the face of high retail prices are all highlights of the past 12 months.

BEEF editors put our heads together to determine the industry’s top 20 news happenings of this remarkable year and then boiled it down to a final 10. The first five items were consensus picks, while the second five in the following list were majority picks. See if you agree.

A GOP landslide in the November midterm elections improves political prospects for U.S. cattlemen in the coming two years. In a result largely cheered by U.S. beef producers, and a vote largely seen as a repudiation of President Obama’s policies, Republicans added to their majority in the U.S. House of Representatives (247-188) and wrested control of the U.S. Senate by winning nine races for a 54-44 majority (+2 independents who caucus with Democrats) in that chamber. Control of both houses of Congress will allow Republicans to at least get legislation to the desk of the president, and wield more influence in the regulatory arena.

A surging cattle market sets record-highs in all classifications throughout 2014. “Trying to outguess or outsmart this market is about like trying to outrun a speeding train. It’s nearly impossible to do and the consequences can be devastating,” wrote market analyst Nevil Speer in his Dec. 4, 2014 monthly market outlook. According to USDA preliminary year-end numbers from the Livestock Marketing Information Center, live fed steers were up almost 20.7% in price over 2013, while dressed steers were up by 20.9%, with the beef cutout up by 23.2%.

Relief from prolonged drought comes to much of U.S.; California and parts of the Southern Plains are exceptions. Grazing conditions were much improved over 2013 in most U.S. cattle regions. The exceptions were California, which continues to deal with devastating drought, and parts of the Southern Plains. The improvement in pasture conditions helped spur heifer retention. Of course, drought is never far away in a grazing-based business and industry eyes are anxiously awaiting spring 2015 moisture conditions.

Beef demand remains strong in face of higher retail prices and shrinking overall consumer expenditures on food. While higher cattle prices are welcome, they typically result in higher prices at retail. So there was significant concern regarding the effect on beef demand. Surprisingly, demand has increased. In fact, demand has increased 16 of the last 17 quarters as measured by the quarterly All Fresh Beef Demand Index. Although beef consumption is declining due to tightening supplies, consumers are paying more for available supplies. Meanwhile, international consumers are exhibiting a similar resilience to increasing beef prices.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) rules against the U.S. and on mandatory country of original labeling (COOL). The ongoing saga of COOL continues. The U.S. plans to appeal the most recent World Trade Organization ruling in favor of Canada and Mexico that U.S. COOL regulations violate international trade laws. But since the U.S. has lost at every turn in the WTO process, it’s likely this appeal will be rejected as well. Unless USDA or Congress acts, what hangs in the balance if the U.S. refuses to comply with its trade obligations is the imposition of $1.5 billion in retaliatory tariffs by Canada and Mexico on a wide range of U.S. exports.

The second five

U.S. beef exports surge to record levels. U.S. beef export value will set a new record in 2014, with the final total expected to be about $6.65 billion. This will surpass last year’s record total by about 8%, reports the U.S. Meat Export Federation. Export volume will finish the year roughly steady with the 2013 total of 1.173 million metric tons, which is about 8% below the 2011 record (1.289 million metric tons). Year 2014 saw excellent growth for U.S. beef in Mexico, Hong Kong and South Korea. Exports to leading market Japan have been fairly steady with last year, when both volume and value increased dramatically following the change in cattle age eligibility (which increased from 21 months to 30 months in February 2013).

FDA releases Veterinary Feed Directive. In late 2013, FDA proposed an extension of its Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) requirement to the use of medically important antimicrobial drugs in animal feed and water. Enactment is expected in the coming year, but under the rule, the select products can only be utilized in feed under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian. Previously, such products were available to producers over-the-counter at their local animal feed store or animal health store and used at their discretion. A VFD is a written statement issued by a licensed veterinarian, under a valid veterinarian-client-patient relationship, that orders the use of a VFD drug in or on an animal feed.

The late fall implosion of oil prices that threatens global economic recovery. The crude oil market is currently at its lowest level since 2009, with some market watchers predicting the price of crude could fall to $50/barrel. Some attribute it to slumping world demand for energy due to a weaker global economy. Others place credit at the feet of the surge in energy production in the U.S. due to hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas on private and state lands. And others say it is an OPEC scheme to flood the market with oil to drive out the high-cost providers. Whatever the cause, the price of gasoline at the pump was down more than $1/gal. than one year before, providing welcome relief to both consumer pocketbooks and input costs for industry and agriculture.

Uncertainty surrounding cowherd expansion accompanied by runaway female prices on one hand and structural attrition on the other. With a cattle herd equaling the size of that in the 1950s, beef supplies are exceedingly tight. While that stokes demand for fewer animals, it also greatly pressures the infrastructure developed over the years to handle much higher numbers. That spells challenges with overcapacity in the feeding and packing sectors. In fact, from 1977 to the present about 200 packing plants have closed, writes Steve Kay. The economics forced plants to get larger or close. It also reflects the very small number of new entrants into the sector.

A move by federal agencies to “clarify” the definition of “Waters of the United States” alarms landowner groups. A proposal by the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to tweak the definition of “Waters of the United States” raised a firestorm among landowners and landowner groups.  Opponents of the move claimed such a rewrite would expand federal jurisdiction to essentially all waters across the U.S. – even potentially ditches – thus saddling landowners with increased regulation and liability. The U.S. beef industry has found plenty of allies against the move, which will likely see the next chapter in the coming year.

Other notable events of 2014

• Decrease in grain prices reduces feed prices for livestock production.

• USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack moves to create second beef checkoff; then retreats when already meager support totally evaporates.

• Appreciation in pastureland values outpaces crop land values for the first time since the 2009 economic downturn.

• Initiated by the hotel, restaurant and institutional sector, most notably McDonald's and Walmart, the beef industry participates in a collaborative effort seeking shared parameters for sustainable beef production.

• The Nevada standoff between rancher Cliven Bundy and the Bureau of Land Management over Bundy's unpaid grazing fees draws national awareness of public lands issues and concern about government overreach.

• The U.S. beef industry discusses the merits of a two-pronged strategy for domestic beef marketing (ground beef for economy and versatility and whole-muscle cuts for the quality market)

 • Expansion of CME daily price limits for both Feeder Cattle and Live Cattle contracts after too narrow limits locked Feeder cattle futures limit-down five consecutive sessions and contributed to the first cash price break of the season.

• The noticeable absence of El Nino conditions that were predicted for fall 2014.

• Stress on ag commodity delivery system – inability to move grain from the Northern Plains because of oil; inability to haul cattle from sale barns for a time in MT, NE and WY.

• Staff overhaul at the American Angus Association.

 

You might also like:

6 first-hand reviews of beef cow confinement

7 keys to ranch profitability

Commentary: Life was good when our only worry was herd expansion

When it comes to vaccination, timing is all-critical

60 stunning photos that showcase ranch work ethics

Here’s the secret to realizing your New Year resolutions

I recently read an article that offered tips to help people keep their New Year’s resolutions. The article claimed that about 70% of all resolutions are broken by the third week in January. I guess that means that, while we all want to make changes and improve ourselves, we simply can’t find the time to invest in making those changes happen.

home photo contest

Photo Gallery: Home Is Where You Hang Your Hat
At BEEF, we're proud to celebrate the ranching lifestyle. Enjoy 70+ photos from our readers that showcase their country home. Enjoy the gallery now.

 

I couldn’t help but think of the old saying that goes something like, “You always have time for your priorities.” That contains a lot of truth, but I’ve always found it a bit irritating because it points out the contradictions between who I say I am, who I want to be, and who I actually am.

I believe God and family come first in my life, but my time commitment doesn’t always validate that. Of course, we all must make a living, and our careers have certain demands that must be met. However, it seems like I often find myself giving short shrift to what should be the most important things in my life.

Actions speak louder than words. While we may want to get in shape, treat our spouse more lovingly, prepare our kids to enter the world, or even something as mundane as cleaning feed bunks, how we invest our most precious asset – time – says a lot about who we really are.

The truth is that I don’t think I can be a great husband without having a strong faith; nor can I be a good father without being a good husband. And I can’t achieve what I want to achieve with our ranch if I’m not in good physical shape or don’t get proper sleep. Do you see how these priorities build upon each other?

Time will always be our most limiting resource. However, by establishing my top priority and making time to address it, I’ll find time for the next priority and then on down the line. I think that while time is always short, using it wisely actually multiplies it.

Subscribe now to Cow-Calf Weekly to get the latest industry research and information in your inbox every Friday!

Far more than work ethic and commitment, the key to keeping your resolutions for 2015 is to make sure those resolutions align with your priorities. Then ensure that you take care of the most important first. You can’t love someone or know what is on your children’s hearts without spending time with them. If you don’t make time for God, family and friends, you’ll find yourself behind in chasing your other priorities as well. Passion without a strong foundation is dangerous. Balance and priorities are the keys to seeing our resolutions become reality.

Keep a daily log of how you spend your time and you’ll understand where your priorities truly are. You may be quite surprised.

The opinions of Troy Marshall are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com and the Penton Agriculture Group.

You might also like:

15 photos of cowboy hats in action

Breathtaking photos of winter on the ranch

6 tips for buyers & sellers at a cattle sale

Prevention and treatment of cow prolapse

Bale grazing lets cows feed themselves

8 tips for being a better ranch manager in 2015


 

5 biggest themes for the U.S. cattle industry in 2014

5 biggest themes for the U.S. cattle industry in 2014

What a year 2014 was; it’s surely one that we’ll talk about for generations. With that said, here is my take on what the beef industry’s five biggest themes were in 2014. Do you agree?

1.  Record prices. Tight supplies and strong demand created an ongoing string of record prices in all cattle categories, as well as record profitability. What’s more, this good fortune looks to continue into 2015 and beyond. No other industry story can approach this one in significance, and no story needs less description. The good news is that this is a story that is still being written.

2.  The beef checkoff is healthier than any of us thought. Despite the failure of leadership that threatened to destroy the checkoff just a few short years ago, producer support for the checkoff remains at near all-time highs. Meanwhile, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack’s attempt to create a second checkoff failed, which illustrated that while the current checkoff may not be perfect, it’s a pretty good system. When Vilsack rolled out the idea of a second checkoff, people realized what was really needed is the current checkoff, but with more dollars to invest and less government oversight.

3. Mandatory country-of-origin labeling (COOL). COOL increasingly looks like a great waste of industry resources. We fought battles within the industry, and we’ve brought down the wrath of the World Trade Organization on us as well. It was never a battle worth waging. The impact of COOL was minimal, the death of it inevitable, and the expenditure of so much industry effort simply worthless.

The leaders on both sides bear responsibility for this. We all were caught up in the ideology of this debate, which was significant, but the actual policy impact was not worth the political capital expended on either side. Never has an issue captured so much attention, time and money, and had so little impact. It is fitting that it is going out with a whimper, because it never amounted to much more than that.

4. The real industry threats are in Washington, D.C. Whether it’s the regulatory interpretation of the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, the Endangered Species Act or a host of other interactions between our industry and the federal regulatory apparatus, some of our biggest challenges continue to reside in our nation’s capital. The government continues to be a key determinant of profitability for many industries, increasingly deciding who the winners and losers will be within those industries.

How big of a factor is this in our business? Consider that cattlemen in highly regulated states like California and Florida were the first to begin creating budget items for lawyers and for supporting their cattlemen’s associations. That’s because they understood early on that their survival depended on going head-to-head with overzealous environmental interests. Today, that realization extends to every state in the union. With fewer folks involved in ranching, we must better support and utilize our state and national organizations to fight for our interests and future.

5. Profitability actually sparks innovation. A commodity mindset has always been revered in our industry. In a low-margin, capital-intensive, commodity-priced business model, it’s the low-cost producers who survive. We’ve been taught to squeeze a dime out of a nickel, and analyze any investment with a very sharp pencil. It was a necessity, but the industry is now learning that it also greatly limited innovation.

As profits have increased and dollars flowing within the industry grow, so is innovation. We’re now investing in the future and making dramatic changes. We now understand how companies like Apple or Microsoft have been able to do so many innovative things.  Innovation is much easier when accompanied by profits.

The opinions of Troy Marshall are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com and the Penton Agriculture Group.
 

You might also like:

Bale grazing lets cows feed themselves

8 tips for being a better ranch manager in 2015

Beef cattle genomics come full circle

New video offers tax strategies for cattlemen

Year-round cattle pests steal from bottom line

6 first-hand reviews of beef cow confinement

7 keys to ranch profitability

Industry At A Glance: How will declining fuel prices affect beef demand?

Industry At A Glance: How will declining fuel prices affect beef demand?

Perhaps the most important global economic development in 2014 has been the sharp decline in gas prices. The crude oil market is currently at its lowest level since 2009. This means sharply lower prices at the fuel pump. Meanwhile, natural gas has also plummeted in recent weeks.

From a direct perspective, cheaper fuel prices should equate to improved consumer spending for other items and help boost the economy. That ultimately could become a virtual loop: more spending means a better economy, a better economy means more spending.

That perspective is underscored even further from a psychological perspective. That is, cheaper gas also helps improve consumer confidence. Several years ago, when gas prices were rising, the opposite effect was at work. At the time, I noted that John Eichberger, vice president of motor fuels for the National Association of Convenience Stores, explained the effect of rising fuel prices this way: “… for the consumer it’s emotional, not necessarily a logical purchase. They go to extraordinary measures [to avoid higher prices].” In other words, rising gas prices, or even the perception of them, may assert their bite on take-home income, which potentially curbs confidence and overall consumer spending. Meanwhile, the same phenomenon is as work in the opposite direction: lower fuel prices boost confidence and spending.

 

Those energy market events possess two important implications for the beef industry:

  • First, it provides some relief when it comes to input costs; it’s less expensive to operate machinery including trucks, tractors, steam flakers, etc.
  • Second, and equally important, is the influence on the consumer. Lower gas prices ultimately mean more disposable income for all of us.

How do you perceive the impact of declining fuel prices on the economy? How will it, or how has it, impacted your operation? What impact do you foresee this might have on consumer spending – in particular, with regards to restaurant visits and beef’s competiveness at the grocery store? Do you think lower prices will be sustained, or is it a relatively short-lived phenomenon where the market will find some equilibrium at higher levels from here? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

Nevil Speer serves as a private industry consultant. He is based in Bowling Green, KY, and can be reached at [email protected]

 

You might also like:

Breathtaking photos of winter on the ranch

6 tips for buyers & sellers at a cattle sale

Prevention and treatment of cow prolapse

Bale grazing lets cows feed themselves

8 tips for being a better ranch manager in 2015

Beef cattle genomics come full circle

The cattle market found its bottom; where to from here?

The cattle market found its bottom; where to from here?

Markets never let you rest – especially commodity markets. The potential for substantial and unexpected moves requires constant vigilance and persistent monitoring. And the “all-alert” is probably most prudent just when everything seems predictable or orderly.

That reality is best witnessed by market action in the cattle markets during the past month. Recall that the November fed trade finished the month at $171/cwt., established several new record-highs during the month, and managed to average nearly $170/cwt. Just as quickly, however, the market’s sustained run of better prices came to an end as December opened for business. Over the span of just three weeks, the market retreated nearly $13 to settle back at $158 just prior to Christmas.

Equally important, the deferred live cattle futures also gave up ground. The February and April contracts have both gone from trading $169-$170 at the end of November to trading $159-$160 during the Christmas holiday week. The slide possesses some especially important implications. Primarily, cattle feeders who haven’t hedged fall-run purchases, on hopes of a spring rally, now have a deeper hole to dig out of.

That’s compounded by the fact that cattle weights are running well ahead of last year, plus the 120+ day feedyard inventory is sizeable (USDA’s December Cattle on Feed report placed the number at 3.302 million head – the second-largest level in the series history behind 2012). And as noted last month, “So while feedyards currently possess good leverage as packers chase cattle, the front-end supply will need to be monitored carefully going into 2015.” So, while the market has seemingly found a bottom, there’s some question about how much upside potential exists with those factors in play.

That discussion emphasizes some observations made in last month’s column regarding the unprecedented run in the feeder cattle market. Most notably, “…. cattle feeders have aggressively chased cattle. That’s occurred for several reasons:

• To ensure operating at increased capacity levels and

• To procure placements as a means to bet on a surging fed cattle market.

“As long as the fed market continues to reward that behavior, the risk appetite is likely to remain elevated (keeping prices above the regression line). That’s a good strategy when prices are improving, but could/will prove problematic if/when the fed cattle market goes through a corrective phase.”

Those very concerns spilled over into the feeder cattle market. CME’s feeder cattle futures ran out of buyers in mid-December and closed limit down five days in a row. Meanwhile, expanded limits provided some confidence regarding liquidity and managed to stem the slide. However, further selling occurred in the days following – the January and February contracts settled at $215 and $213, respectively, to close out Christmas-week trade. In both cases, that’s a $20/cwt. (or $150/head) adjustment in just three weeks of trade.

Which way from here?

Seemingly, the market is now on its heels looking for direction. As noted earlier, the market appears to be consolidating in a positive direction with post-Christmas trade. But longer-term direction will come following the holidays with some return to normal schedules.

Moreover, the wholesale market should begin to gain some traction moving into February and March (that’s especially true given the sharp decline in fuel prices – for more on that see this week’s Industry At A Glance). However, in the meantime, given the sharp downturn in recent weeks, traders will be especially careful, looking for confirmation of follow-through to the upside.

The market’s setback in December is disconcerting from any number of perspectives. And it’s probably been more difficult because 2014 has almost conditioned us to expect markets to continually rise. Moreover, the setback was dramatic and seemed particularly volatile. To that point, though, from a longer-run perspective, the move through the end of 2014 remains well within normal expectations of weekly changes.

Figure 1 details that concept; while $5 market shifts on any given week seem large, it’s the longer-run trend that really matters. All three weeks in which the market regressed ($4.50, $4.50 and $4.00, respectively), the percentage change ranged between 1.6%-1.75%, which is well within normal change expectations from week-to-week from a historical perspective.

Last year at this time, I noted that, “…as we embark on 2014, there’s some very new dynamics at work.” That same observation remains true as we enter into 2015 – especially considering the historical levels of capital tied up in the cattle industry. So, similar to previous months, the observation that, “Trying to outguess or outsmart this market is about like trying to outrun a speeding train. It’s nearly impossible to do and the consequences can be devastating.”

The market has revealed during the past month that it can be unforgiving. Moreover, fundamentals are such that gains in 2015 will likely be harder to come by than they were in 2014. That reinforces the need for prudent risk management around all aspects of business – no matter the particular segment. With that in mind, in closing, objective information and disciplined review are both essential to helping ensure successful decision-making going forward. 

You might also like:

Breathtaking photos of winter on the ranch

6 tips for buyers & sellers at a cattle sale

Prevention and treatment of cow prolapse

Bale grazing lets cows feed themselves

8 tips for being a better ranch manager in 2015

Beef cattle genomics come full circle

 

5 smart tips for sticking to resolutions in 2015

Tonight we’ll say “Goodbye, 2014” and “Hello, 2015!” The start of a new year offers the prospect of a fresh beginning, and, of course, the opportunity to resolve to do better. Such resolutions range from goals to lose weight, improve fitness, save money, pay down debt, spend more time with family, or stay on top of record-keeping. While we all start the new calendar year with great intentions, 92% of folks will fail to stick to their resolutions, according to a recent study from the University of Scranton’s Journal of Clinical Psychology.

That report says that nearly half (45%) of Americans make resolutions, and the number-one resolution is to lose weight. Of course, healthy living is something ranchers focus on as well. After all, production agriculture is a physically demanding job, and maintaining good health should be a top priority for those who want to stay active in the business.

If your resolution is to lose weight or gain muscle, Virdender Sodhi, founder of the Ayurvedic and Naturopathic Medical Clinic in Bellevue, WA, offers the following tips:

1. Avoid unrealistic goals.

Don’t expect to go from zero to 60 – 60 being your ideal body image – overnight. Unfortunately, most folks who resolve to lose a lot of weight or quit smoking are used to partaking in easy snack foods and desire quick rewards. "Health is a long-term labor of love; commit to the love and wait for results,” Sodhi says.

2. Establish good habits.

Sodhi says people make resolutions because they know the goals are important, but changing behavior to achieve such goals can be challenging. He recommends addressing your goal in stages. For instance, if you want to lose 30 lbs., focus on the first five, and then the next five lbs., until you reach your goal. It’s also important to establish new habits, which takes about 28 days to imprint, he says. “Once you train your mind with good habits, achieving your goals becomes much easier,” he says.

 

Subscribe now to Cow-Calf Weekly to get the latest industry research and information in your inbox every Friday!

 

3. Frequency, intensity and time are keys to success.

Sodhi says frequency, intensity and time are the three investments needed to lose weight or gain muscle. “As a general rule, exercise at least 30 minutes 3-4 times/week. Make sure to start with the appropriate intensity for your health; too little intensity and you’ll see little if any results, but too much and you’ll be prone to quit. What matters is quality. Increase time and intensity once you comfortably meet goals.”

4. Use positive reinforcement.

“Solidify the gains with persistent positive reinforcement,” advises Sodhi. “Learn to reward yourself in a new way by paying attention to the gains in your body. Notice the improvement in stress levels, breathing, energy, sex life, mood and overall strength. Don’t let these improvements occur without a personal recognition of your accomplishments.”

5. Be SMART about your goals.

Teresa Clark-Jones, Michigan State University Extension, echoes Sodhi’s comments about sticking to resolutions, and offers the following advice regarding setting achievable goals. She says the most effective goals are “SMART” goals.

Clark-Jones says, “SMART goals provide a framework for making decisions about what to do. Once accomplished, they can help you turn your dreams into reality. Why do so many people have difficulty reaching their goals? There are several frequently cited reasons. One is that the goal is too general. The more specific the goal, chances improve of completing the goal. Many of us have too many goals that we are working on at once. Narrow your list down to two or three goals and you will less likely become overwhelmed or give up. Many of us set unrealistic goals. This is particularly true with financial goals.”

So what does SMART stand for? Clark-Jones breaks it down into five easy-to-remember words.

Specific: The who, what, where, when, which and why part of the goal.

Measurable: This describes the action of the goal. How much? How often? How many? How will you know when it is accomplished?

Agreeable: All parties that are actively part of each of the goals need to agree on the action. Consider what attitudes, abilities and skills you will need. What overlooked opportunities exist?

Relevant/realistic: Is it important to you? Are you willing and able to work toward it? Do you truly believe it can be accomplished?

Timed: Establish a completion date. What is the time frame?

What are your goals for 2015? Share your resolutions and plans to succeed in the comments section below. I hope you enjoy your New Year’s Eve celebrations and happy 2015!

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of Beefmagazine.com or the Penton Farm Progress Group.

 

You might also like:

Grass-fed vs grain-fed ground beef | Research shows no difference in healthfulness

Is this the year to over-winter cull cows?

Bale grazing lets cows feed themselves

Online tool helps livestock producers mitigate odors

A team of Iowa State University (ISU) Extension and Outreach specialists have developed the Air Management Practices Assessment Tool, a web-based online tool to help livestock and poultry producers compare odor mitigation techniques that could be useful on their farms.

"The website was developed to help livestock and poultry producers identify practices to reduce odors, and emissions of gases and dust on their farms caused by animal production," says Angie Rieck-Hinz, an ISU Extension and Outreach field agronomist and member of the project team.

According to Rieck-Hinz, the database lists options to be used from three core sources of odor and emissions in their operations – animal housing, manure storage and handling, and land application.

To read more about the online tool, click here.

 

You might also like:

Nothing about the U.S. cattle market should surprise us any more

10 best Christmas on the ranch photos

6 tips for buyers & sellers at a cattle sale

Reader gallery: Home is where you hang your hat

Download of 2015 Seedstock 100 listing

Enjoy a printable download of the 1st annual edition of BEEF magazine's Seedstock 100, a listing of the top seedstock producers in the beef industry ranked by bull sales volume. This BEEF exclusive listing is a who's who of the U.S. beef seedstock industry. Please click on the link below and register to download the PDF file.

View an interactive listing of the Seedstock 100 here.

This project was sponsored by Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc.'s Cydectin® and Pyramid®5 and Presponse® SQ product lines.

 

DOWNLOAD HERE

No ranchers under age 35 by 2033? Say it ain’t so!

As a little kid, my dream was to be a rancher just like my dad. I thought I’d be the luckiest grownup ever if I could work outside all day, taking care of my cattle and our family’s land. That dream and my sentiments about the business are the same today, but I now understand and appreciate the challenges, the risks and the sacrifice it takes to be in the cattle business.

I was fortunate to have a foundation on which to build my business, as my family already had an established ranching operation. Simply put, I know that I’m lucky to be able to farm and ranch, as there are many who have the desire but are unable to do so due to the high startup costs. Like my folks, I work for the hope that one day my own children will be able to follow in my footsteps, as I followed in those of the four generations before me.

Being under 35 years of age and involved in production agriculture certainly puts me in a minority category -- one that is quickly growing smaller, according to a recent report published in the Society of Range Management’s publication, Rangelands.

After evaluating 90 years of census data, the report concludes there will be no operators younger than 35 by 2033, and the average age of the rancher will be 60 years old by 2050. Here are excerpts from the report:

“The authors of the Rangelands article focused on the High Plains, specifically Wyoming, which still holds large tracts of working land. They reviewed decades of U.S. Census data, sorting it into classes based on worker age. They then mapped the results to pinpoint both state- and county-level trends.

“They found that more than half of today’s farm operators are older than 55. In all but two counties in Wyoming, farming has attracted ever fewer people 34 years and younger. Most counties have also seen drops in the 35–54 age bracket. As a result, the average age of farmers and ranchers has increased in every county in Wyoming since 1920.”

 

Subscribe now to Cow-Calf Weekly to get the latest industry research and information in your inbox every Friday!

 

The authors say that even if children and grandchildren show an interest in agriculture, the prior generation often cannot afford to keep their land and equipment. Instead, they retire and sell their land – often to residential or commercial developers. The authors point out that these Wyoming trends are occurring throughout the U.S.

The report’s authors urge a new approach that will attract young people to the business. These include teaching and internship programs, government incentives, and conservation easements that preserve farming and ranch estates – some of which are already in use. But, the authors say, the industry must work fast, before this fount of local knowledge and expertise is lost. “If young state residents learn more about their local environment and agricultural heritage, these programs could be even more successful in attracting the next generation of farmers and ranchers,” the authors say.

To read the full text with predictions, click here.

Unfortunately, while the cattle business offers the opportunity to reap big rewards, it also comes with huge financial risk. Having the capital, the land and the fortitude to get established in this business is an extremely difficult task without a very strong foundation and an excellent transition plan in place for the next generation.

While this report is disturbing, I believe there will still be opportunities for young people to get into production agriculture. With that in mind, the typical definition of what makes a farmer or rancher might look a lot different by 2033. Young people will find new, creative ways to diversify. Off-farm incomes will be critical to maintain cash flow. Online, at-home businesses will become more of a mainstay. We are already seeing this trend now, so I only see that expanding in the future.

What do you think? Will the next generation be able to take over or will the cattle business continue to consolidate until there are only a few major players left in the game? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of Beefmagazine.com or the Penton Farm Progress Group.

 

You might also like:

Nothing about the U.S. cattle market should surprise us any more

10 best Christmas on the ranch photos

6 tips for buyers & sellers at a cattle sale

Reader gallery: Home is where you hang your hat

Share this --> Breathtaking photos of winter on the ranch

6 Trending Headlines: Online heifer development info available, plus: Do cattle prices have room to rise in 2015?

2015 is right around the corner. It’s time to look back on the year that was and take the lessons learned into the year that that’s coming. Here’s a look at current news headlines to help you get ready for the coming year.

 

You might also like:

Prevention and treatment of cow prolapse

Gallery: Ranching is a family affair; meet the generations on the ranch

What's the best breeding weight for beef heifers?

Grass-fed vs grain-fed ground beef | Research shows no difference in healthfulness

Is this the year to over-winter cull cows?

Bale grazing lets cows feed themselves