Ad Spot

Changes in beef industry go beyond the numbers

By Nathan Gregory

MSU Extension Service

STARKVILLE, Miss. — Mississippi’s beef cattle herd size and farm inventory have not changed much in the last three years, but changes are taking place elsewhere in the industry.

The most recent count from the MSU Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine lists 920,000 head of cattle on 15,980 farms as of 2020. In 2018, the state had a head count of 930,000 on about the same number of farms.

However, consumer behavior and strategies for raising beef cattle are moving in new directions, said Daniel Rivera, a Mississippi State University Extension beef cattle nutritionist and researcher with the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced Rivera to deliver educational programming in a virtual format instead of the traditional Extension field days and short courses. Rivera had already seen a rising number of younger producers entering the industry, and they had no trouble with the transition to video conferencing.

“When we had to go virtual, the younger producers were Johnny-on-the-spot, and that opened our eyes to the opportunity we have to engage with a diverse range of ranchers,” Rivera said. “A lot of them are looking at different ways to market their animals and are better versed in what younger generations want to see in their beef.”

One of these demands, he says, is for locally produced, locally finished beef.

“National data suggest more millennial consumers want to know where their meat comes from,” Rivera said. “A lot of smaller slaughter plants are scheduled out several months ahead to meet this demand. It’s a limited market because only so many people have enough disposable income, but we still have some room to grow.”

A stable market is key to keeping younger producers in beef cattle production. Disruptions in the supply chain due to COVID-19 caused market instability, but conditions have steadied since. The statewide average price for 500- to 600-pound steers was about $145 per hundredweight during the first three weeks of April 2021. This price is up 17% compared with the same period a year ago, when cattle markets were disrupted by the pandemic.

“The number of beef cattle and calves in Mississippi and nationally has been steady to slightly lower over the past year,” said Extension agricultural economist Josh Maples. “Market prices the past few years have hovered just above break-even levels for many producers, which prevented heavy liquidation but also didn’t encourage many producers to expand.”

Restaurant demand remains an important factor as the U.S. and world continue to emerge from pandemic restrictions.

“Demand for steaks is influenced by travel and dining at sit-down restaurants,” Maples said. “As we approach the warmer months, ground beef demand usually picks up as the primary grilling season begins.”

At MSU research facilities on campus and across the state, recent beef cattle studies have included fattening cattle without a conventional stable, costs incurred by fattening beyond standard market weight, and using hay analysis to determine appropriate amounts needed to supplement cattle.

In 2020, the state’s beef cattle industry had a $261 million value of production, which was a $12 million increase over the previous year.

News

Today is May 12, 2021

News

Anna Peterson of Perkinston Participates in UA’s Cooperative Education Program

News

Harbor Freight Tools signs deal to open new location in Picayune

News

Extension extends farm stress webinar

News

Governor Reeves announces new jobs in Grenada 

News

Pearl River students awarded prestigious community college transfer scholarship

News

Reeves urges calm, assures Mississippians that a gas shortage can be avoided if panic buying does not occur

News

More than half of teachers considering leaving the classroom

News

The SBA Funds 16,000 Restaurant Revitalization Fund Awards

News

Today is May 11, 2021

News

Brandon Woman Pleads Guilty to Harboring of Illegal Alien

News

Former Honduran National Police Officer Sentenced To 12 Years In Prison For Conspiring To Import Cocaine Into The United States And Related Weapons Offense

News

Take mystery out of fertilizer purchases

News

WCU presents awards at Honors Day Convocation

News

Grammy Museum® Mississippi announces opening weekend events for MTV Turns Forty: I Still Want My MTV

News

Causes of yellow leaves on Hibiscus

News

Insurance customers at risk of being scammed

News

Millsaps College to Celebrate Commencement for Classes of 2020 and 2021

News

Investigators working two shootings in same day

News

Pearl River celebrates 2020-21 graduates

News

Sheriff’s department arrests several for drug offenses

News

 Initiative 77 delayed due to publishing error 

News

Auditor’s Office partners with school districts to cut outside-the-classroom spending, direct education money to teachers and students

News

Today is May 10, 2021