Cattle herd lowest level since 1952

Steven LeBlanc

The drought is hammering the beef industry and driving cattle ranchers out of business; families who have been ranching for generations are selling off their herds. Cattle ranchers were already thinning their herds because of higher corn prices, which increased the cost of feed; grasslands have dried up causing the price of hay to rise 60 percent above the 10-year average.

The total number of cattle and calves in the U.S. beginning this year was 89.3 million head, 7.5% lower than at the last cyclical peak in 2007. This is the smallest cattle inventory since 1952.

The annual USDA Cattle Inventory report underscores how the drought in America is affecting cattle herds:

The inventory of all cows and heifers (38.5 million head) that calved in 2012 is 2% less than last year, the lowest January 1 inventory since 1941 (36.8 million head).

The beef cow inventory (29.3 million head) is 3% less than 2012.

Cattle and calves on feed for slaughter (13.4 million head) are down 5% from last year.

The number of calves grazing small grain pasture in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas (1.34 million head) is 16% lower than last year.

The worst drought since the 1930s continues. Its latest casualty is one of the largest beef processing plants in the country: Cargill’s Plainview (Tex.) facility, which handled about 4 percent of all the cattle slaughtered in the America. 2,000 workers there will lose their jobs at the Texas plant.

A recent three-month outlook by the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center forecasts that the drought will persist across the Plains and spread across most of Texas in 2013.

“The drought is so intense at the moment in parts of the U.S. that it will take a lot to end it,” Nielsen-Gammon, based in College Station, Texas, said. “And the seasonal forecasts right now are tilted to normal to below-normal rainfall, which means the odds are stacked against ending it anytime soon.”

Make sure to read Leviticus 26, a chapter that explicitly instructs us how to receive the blessing of regular rain, and good crop yields. “If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them; Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. And your threshing shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing time: and ye shall eat your bread to the full …” (verses 3-5). National obedience to God’s laws is the key to a healthy economy and productive farming.

The solution to drought is national obedience to the Ten Commandments. We wait to see if the mid-west gets the rain it desperately needs. We will be keeping a close watch on the spring rains of [April, May & June].

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