July 28, 2022


US farmers forced to sell off cattle at levels not seen in over 10 years


US farmers in Western states are being forced to sell off their cattle at levels not seen in over 10 years due to extreme drought and inflationary pressures, CNN Business reported.


According to the America Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), nearly 80% of the US's western region is currently experiencing extreme drought conditions, which have been present for almost a year. However, the most recent week-long heatwave, which affected almost 80 million people nationwide, has reached a crisis point for farmers and ranchers.


Texas temperatures have been around 100 degrees for several weeks, depleting water supplies and causing grass to burn, both of which are essential for feeding and maintaining cow herds. Some ranchers claim that selling is their only option.


David Anderson, Texas A&M professor of agricultural economics, said since 2011, when they experienced theirmost recent severe drought, they haven't seen this kind of movement of cows to markets.


An AFBF survey found that a severe drought in the West forced 40% of farmers to sell off a portion of their herds last year. The situation is currently getting worse as a result of rising prices for supplies like feed, fertiliser, and fuel. A lot of cattle are going up for auction.


On sale day, 200–300 cows typically visit the small sale barn in Elk City, Oklahoma, which serves four small counties. According to Oklahoma Farm Bureau state board member Monte Tucker, they saw 1,000 last week.


Tucker, a fifth-generation cattle rancher, said he won't sell his cows until there is no more grass for them to eat.


He said it has increased by two times since last time, adding that they used to purchase that feed for US$200 per tonne, but it is now well over US$400. Feed has therefore doubled, adding another crunch.


Anderson said that despite ranchers' reluctance to sell, they are at least receiving a fair price at market. Consumers may eventually pay less because of this. Consumers in the US paid 9.7% more for ground beef in June compared to the same month last year.


The issue, however, is projected price increases. The next two years may see higher beef prices for consumers as a result of smaller herds and fewer breeding cows. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) anticipates a 7% decrease in beef production in 2019.


Through the USDA's Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees, and Farm-Raised Fish programme, farmers and ranchers may be eligible for financial aid. The programme covers any extra expenses ranchers might have to pay to transport water or livestock to better grazing areas.


There is one restriction: Based on the US Drought Monitor, ranchers must reside in a county for an extended period of time that has a severe drought ranking level.


Governor Mike Parson of Missouri signed an executive order on Thursday providing assistance to 53 counties in his state that are suffering from an extreme drought.


Governor Parson said he knows on his farm that conditions have rapidly deteriorated, and he is hearing the same reports from countless other farm and ranch families across the state.


Farmers must be given access to water in state parks and other conservation areas, according to an order given to the departments of Natural Resources and Conservation. Parsons also gave the Missouri Department of Transportation instructions to waive charges and limitations for farmers and ranchers transporting hay.


-      CNN Business

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