The drought and high feed costs have forced some cattle producers to reduce herd size, and some producers across the nation have hinted at quitting the business altogether.


"It doesn’t surprise me that there are people thinking about getting out of the business," said Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack.  "The reality is, that’s been true of agriculture for the last number of years.  We’ve seen a consolidation and a reduction in the number of farms."


“[A big question if you get out] what do you do with the land?" pointed out USDA Livestock analyst Shayle Shagam.  "In many areas the cow/calf operators are raising cows on land that’s not really suitable for grain.  So do you simply sell your operation to somebody else who then could use it to run cows on that land?  Because in many cases there are not a lot of alternative uses for that land.”


Shagam noted there is no way to know in real time what’s happening to beef operations across the country.  All the USDA can do is track cattle numbers, which may or may not tell the whole story about the operators.


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