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Beef Buzz News


Rebuilding U.S. Cow Herd Going to be 'Very Tough,' AFBF Economist Says

Wed, 30 Oct 2013 17:42:24 CDT

Rebuilding U.S. Cow Herd Going to be 'Very Tough,' AFBF Economist Says
The FFA Convention continues in Louisville, Kentucky, this week and Radio Oklahoma Network Farm Director Ron Hays is there. He caught up with Bob Young, chief economist with the American Farm Bureau Federation at the Young Farmers and Ranchers booth. They talked about agriculture issues and farm policy including rebuilding the nation’s cow herd.    Young says that process will not be easy and it will be a slow process in light of the high price of heifers.


“It is going to be very tough and I think you’re talking about a long time for this herd to come back or, for that matter, even kind of hold its own. Most of the numbers on those replacement heifers-or just heifers, period-are very strong at this stage of the game. And, again, we thought last year folks were going to hold some of those back, but once we got out to the spring they just managed to know that they were a lot better off going ahead and putting them in the lot and move on forward.”


“I think we’ve got a lot of producers that are looking at that again this year. You may have better forage supplies available to you, though, next spring, so we may have some folks that are going to say, ‘No, I want to put grass through those animals and let’s hold on to them and build back.’


“I’m a little bit more optimistic that we are going to start building the herd back next year as opposed to it kind of continuing to draw down we say this year.”


Young says it will be especially difficult for older producers who liquidated their herds to build back given skyrocketing demand for heifers. The higher prices ranchers will have to pay for replacement heifers compared to what they received when they sold out will prove too daunting for many. He says many of those ranchers will likely choose retirement.


He said the younger generation of farmers, those in their twenties, thirties, and forties will shoulder the burden of rebuilding the nation’s herd.


“I think the financial opportunities as we move forward are going to be particularly strong for some of those cattle folks. I do think the cattle folk in particular are going to be in a fairly strong position. And cow-calf operators particularly will be in a fairly strong position as we move forward for the next two or three years.”




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