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Better Forecast For Nevada Cattle Producers

U.S. Dept of Agriculture

The U.S. cattle market spent most of 2015 in a slump, but there’s some good news on the horizon for Nevada's ranchers in the New Year.

A few factors led 2015 to be a less-than-stellar year for the cattle market, including commodity market fluctuations, increased imports and lower demand for choice cuts of beef.

But Flint Wright of the Nevada Department of Agriculture says one of the biggest culprits has been the trend toward fattening up cows. 

"Larger carcass weights just means there's more beef per animal that you then have to put through your markets," Wright explains, "and it just makes things difficult on the processing end of things for beef producers."

He says it will take some time for the market to work through this beefy backlog but that 2016 will be less volatile for Nevada's cattle producers.

"This year will be much more cyclical in that we'll see higher prices in the spring and early summer months, and then [we'll] see the normal downtrend in the fall that is normal for most cattle markets."

Nevada ranchers have reduced herd sizes in the last few years because of the drought, but Wright says if the wetter weather keeps up, the state could easily increase its numbers.

In the cattle industry's favor is the El Niño weather pattern bringing much needed moisture to the West as well as falling hay prices, which have decreased by almost 30 percent.

Julia Ritchey is a former reporter at KUNR Public Radio.
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