Every number has a story: 32 million
Have you ever wished for a do-over? A close your eyes, squint really tight and ask for things to go back to the way you started kind of plea?
Our time on earth isn’t exactly met with wish-granting genies, but we do sometimes get the opportunity for a fresh start – or in our case, a brand new green pasture.
That’s how I choose to look at the drought that hit many of you in recent years. While rainfall has since brought some relief to the Midwest, cattlemen in California and parts of Oregon and Washington continue to find ways to survive on dry ground.
That, along with periods of high feed and live cattle prices, the advancing age of ranchers and grazing land competition with crop land, contributed to the nation’s smallest cow inventory in decades, says John Paterson of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.
But the thing about a bad drought year(s) is that it’s met with quite the celebratory rain dance when moisture decides to make its mark.
Take Texas, Kansas and Oklahoma, three of the states severely affected by drought: 66% of heifer retention is happening in that area alone.
“But the hundred-million-dollar question is, where is the inventory going,” John says. “If we’re at 28 million, are we going to go to 31 million, 32 million?”
John can’t say, though he’ll place his bets on the 32-million mark, citing some ground that will remain with crops instead of cattle.
The important thing is what we do with the blank canvas at our fingertips.
“Rebuilding means a reshaping of the beef industry, a chance to drive the curve in the shape we best see fit,” Lee Schulz says.
Assistant professor and Extension livestock economist at Iowa State University, Lee says that gives ranchers a chance to make breeding decisions that combine traditional traits with established consumer preferences.
“High-performing animals are really adaptable to a lot of different situations in the industry and allow producers to mitigate some of the very high or very low times,” Lee says.
“The drought led us to get rid of the low end of our cow herd, our less productive cows,” John says. “Now we have an opportunity to build on quality. We have the genetics to provide what consumers want, so if we use the technology we have, the future is bright.”
In other words, we get a do over. Let’s make it a good one.
Thanks for allowing me to tell your story,
We’re nearly halfway through our month-long blogging adventure, “Every number has a story.” Catch up here:
Day one: $6.93
Day two: 2.5 million
Day three: $204.10
Day four: 12.1 million
Day five: 11/13
Day six: 8 million
Day seven: 139
Day eight: $39
Day nine: 30.1%
Day 10: 120 million
Day 11: -2.26
Day 12: 12 to 15 minutes
Day 13: 30%
Day 14: 32 million
Day 15: $154,000