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Cattle industry continues to look for signs of expansion

The cattle industry is looking to other resources to determine if herd contraction has slowed since the USDA announced it was canceling the July Inventory report.

Tony Hancock with the Missouri Department of Agriculture says he’s watching auction results from sale barns. “Our numbers of steers and heifers was kind of back to historical what we expect of about a 60/40 break,” he says. “We haven’t seen that since back in February.  We’ve been running about 50/50, which tends to lean towards that idea, but nobody’s been keeping heifers back.” He tells Brownfield the lack of information creates uncertainty in the industry and for producers. “Everybody’s going to be looking for any signs that might be some kind of concrete evidence, whether or not we’re building our herd back again,” he says.

University of Missouri livestock economist Scott Brown says at a time when information is limited, any additional data is welcomed, and weekly sales are a good resource. “It should correspond very nicely to what we see in terms of heifers on feed out of the quarterly report,” he says.  “But we can see that a little more real-time as we go week by week.”

In April, the USDA announced it was canceling the July Cattle Inventory report and discontinuing all county estimates for crops and livestock beginning with the 2024 production year. Members of Congress have urged Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack to reverse the USDA’s decision, but Vilsack recently told Brownfield the department was forced to make a difficult decision following Congressional budget cuts and delays.

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