Dynamics of cattle contraction as processing expands

The size of the U.S. cattle herd is shrinking at the same time state and federal agencies try to stimulate growth among meat processors.

Minnesota Farmers Union government relations director Stu Lourey says it’s a dynamic that should be closely monitored.

“Our folks, entrepreneurs, maybe some of our members, who are deciding to go out and open small meat lockers, are they going to be able to find the livestock to process that they need for their business?”

Regardless of possible livestock contraction, he tells Brownfield the pandemic showed small and regional processors are critical to a resilient food supply chain.

“So we feel really committed to figuring this out long-term and building a system that’s more distributed, resilient, and fair not just for farmers but also to workers.”

The latest Cattle on Feed report from USDA showed monthly placements in October were the lowest for that month since the report began in 1996.

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