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The Rural Blog: Eight reasons most livestock industries booming; new records for pork production

The Rural Blog

While the dairy industry is struggling, overall, livestock industries are booming. “Across the country, meat production is at an all-time high. The U.S. will be at record production for beef and pork in 2019, says Joe Schuele with the U.S. Meat Export Federation. The U.S. has set new records for pork production every year since 2015. Beef production has been increasing since 2016. Poultry production will also be at record levels this year,” executive editor Betsy Freese reports for Successful Farming.

There are some region-specific reasons for the boom, but Freese outlines eight general reasons:

Livestock (UK CAFE photo)

1. Feed costs are lower. Lower corn and soybean prices mean lower feed costs, a trend expected to continue through 2019.

2. Struggling cash grain farmers are increasingly raising livestock as a way to diversify income.

3. Livestock production increases land values. That’s because livestock producers compete for land, which helps boost local land prices.

4. Despite tariffs in China and Mexico, American beef exports were still selling at a record pace as of late 2018. Pork exports were 8% down though, mostly because of the tariffs.

5. Soil health has become increasingly important to farmers, and animal manure is a proven way to put nutrients back into soil.

6. Major retailers like Costco and Walmart are investing millions in poultry and dairy operations that control the entire process from production to distribution. The Costco operation in Nebraska is expected to generate an annual economic impact of about $1.2 billion, though ag columnist Alan Guebert warns that such ventures could hurt farmers in the long run.

7. New pork plants in Michigan and Iowa demand an increased supply of hogs.

8. Livestock helps farmers diversify and create value for their heirs who go into farming.

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