Beef Buzz News
KSU Economist Expects Beef Cow Inventories To Slide Short-Term Then Rebound
Fri, 30 Mar 2012 11:18:57 CDT
KSU Livestock Economist Glynn Tonsor talks with Ron Hays about beef cattle inventory trends.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture periodically makes long-term projections on the size of the beef cattle herd, as well as on beef consumption trends. The latest version, projecting over the next 10 years, suggests a dip in both categories, followed by a modest rebound.
Kansas State University livestock economist Glynn Tonsor discusses the new USDA numbers, starting with the expected trend in U.S. beef cow numbers in the decade ahead.
"In January, just two months ago, we had 29.8 million as our beef cow inventory out to 2021 they're estimating it to be 34.5. That 34.5 million is roughly the size of the herd in 1997. We used to have a herd of, say, 40 million. I've more than once heard people say, 'When are we going to get back to 40 million head?'"
Tonsor says there may never be a return to those raw numbers for a couple of reasons.
"We've been pulling down the number of cows and offsetting it with increased weights. We haven't pulled down beef production as much. That efficiency gain we'd expect to continue going forward. We don't need the same number of cows to hit a beef target as we used to. That trend is probably there to stay and, secondly, meat production in general is getting expensive, but I'm not sure the world needs the U.S. to have 40 million cows."
Domestic per capita red meat and poultry consumption is expected to keep drifting downward in the short term, but recover in the last part of the decade. Tonsor says the USDA expects per capita consumption to fall below the 200 pounds per year figure next year, but rebound to 213 pounds by 2021.
Tonsor says that the beef industry is expected to expand from the lows we are seeing now into next year, "but we're not expecting to get back to the same consumption levels we had in '04 and '07."
"What the average person leaves the grocery store with is less beef than it used to be, but more than they are today.
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