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Farm Progress America, February 5, 2024

Where's the beef? Mike Pearson take s a look at the latest cattle report out by the USDA which shows a shrinking cattle herd-- the smallest since 1951.

February 5, 2024

Mike Pearson takes a look at the cattle report released by the USDA last week. It showed the nation's cattle herd has continued to shrink despite record prices. This was no big surprise to cattle producers.

There are 87.2 million head of cattle and calves in the USA in 2024-- that's a two percent decline from 2023.

Derrell Peel, Cattle market expert at Oklahoma State University, says the bottom line is that the beef herd is still shrinking.

There are three reasons given: Many states are still suffering with poor pasture conditions, high feed prices and labor shortages.

The cattle herd in Texas is down half a million head. But it's increasing in Idaho due to greener pastures there.

Something else that is concerning is that replacement heifers are not being retained which means it could be awhile before the nation's cattle herd maintains the size or increases.

In the dairy sector, the USDA reported stability in milk herds.

South Dakota, Florida and Arizona reported big herd increases. However, the state of New Mexico reported a decline in the dairy herd size.

Farm Progress America is a daily look at key issues in agriculture. It is produced and presented by Mike Pearson, farm broadcaster and host of This Week in Agribusiness.

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