Cattle herd expansion a few years away

The senior beef cattle analyst for Rabo AgriFinance says he’s not expecting the U.S. cattle herd to expand anytime soon.

“It might take until 2026 or 2027 to see some growth again.”

Lance Zimmerman tells Brownfield pasture conditions and profitability need to improve before expansion happens.

“One thing that’s been really challenging for producers over the past few years is the idea of price volatility,” says Zimmerman. “We’ve had a lot of price moves that have increased and the bottom fell out of the market. That’s what happened in the last year. We took 11 months of cattle gains in the cattle futures and wiped them out in less than three months. A lot of the price increases we’ve experienced recently have only helped producers get whole again.”

He says more rains are needed throughout cattle country to reduce drought.

“We’re expected to transition out of El Nino this year and transition back to La Nina, which means probably a return to drought in the south-central plains to Missouri,” he says. “If that returns and we have profitability come back, pasture conditions might limit a herd rebuild.”

A recent report from Rabobank takes a deeper dive into the issues.

Read the report and hear Brownfield’s full interview with Zimmerman from the Cattle Industry Convention.

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