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Why expand if a smaller cattle herd brings higher prices?

The January 2012 Cattle report provides numbers to indicate this is the smallest cattle herd since 1952. However, it should be noted that beef production totaled over 26 billion pounds in 2011, compared to about 10 billion in 1952. The beef industry produces much more beef with the same number of cattle that existed in the 1950s. The record highest beef production was the 27 billion produced in 2002. Unfortunately, genetics will make is harder to continue producing more beef with less cattle.

Smaller beef production leads to smaller beef consumption. Beef consumption is measured by adjusting beef production for international trade and freezer stocks. When this number is divided by the current population, we get per capital beef consumption of 55.3 pounds, a 3.5% decline from 2011 levels.

It is vital for the long-term health of the industry not to have beef production fall too low. With declining cattle numbers, smaller packers and feedlots will likely exit the business. This infrastructure is not easily re-developed when cattle numbers increase.

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  • Robert A L

    The Low Cattle numbers are primarily due to Excessive Government Controls placed on Cattlemen. WE sold all of our cattle after 60+ years of running 100 or 200 head. As a small producer the new gov’t requirements that we Tag each calf born with RFID Tags and other gov’t intrusions we gave it up. Supposedly for “Mad Cow” tracking reasons. Of Course the net affect of this is thatthis is yet another industry where the small producer is driven out so the mega large corporate Bullys can take over then hold the American People up with monopoly powers.

  • James C. Langford

    2-15 Sir: You are right on. I have been in scientific QA and know how the bureaucrats have nothing to do but to increase paper work. Unfortunately, mostly they are unrelated to small or even big producers so are ignorant of how the system is supposed to work. Yet they siphon money from the workers etc and favor big government. Ignorance is no excuse, huh?

  • Neb

    Well the cattle men can make huge profits from this, but the lower income people are the ones to be heavily impacted by this move! They will in most probability end up undernourished or starve with out affordable access to beef! This is especially true now that all foods are skyrocketing in price!

  • randydutton

    Perhaps the real goal is to force the population to abandon beef, a ruminant some fear contributes to global warming.
    Anyone who votes for ANY progressive, is forwarding that agenda. The ONLY way to reverse the government bureaucracy is to VOTE OUT the progressive from the school board on up, and yes, this means your local politicians. Too often conservatives continue to vote in THEIR progressive because they get goodies. We are past the point where we can survive with that attitude.