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Missouri Reclaims Second Highest Beef Cow Count in US

Veronique LaCapra/St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri has retaken its position as the number two beef cow producer in the nation. The USDA’s annual inventory shows the state surpassed Nebraska with a 63,000-increase in cows from 2012 to 2013.

Dry weather across the country had a lot to do with Missouri reclaiming the spot which it held from 1983 to 2008, said University of Missouri agriculture economist Scott Brown.

“I think we’ve all benefitted some by the weather,” he said. “I think Missouri certainly had rain come at good times for both hay and pasture in 2013,” said Brown.

By last year’s count, the state has about 1.8 million cows, down from more than 2 million in 2008. Meanwhile, Texas remains at the top of the list with nearly 4 million beef cows in 2013. Nebraska dropped to number four behind Oklahoma in terms of beef cow numbers.

Record cattle prices are also driving ranchers to expand production, said Brown. “It’s probably got producers’ attentions that now is the time to expand,” he said.

Nationally, the cow herd continues to decline, losing 255,000 head in 2013. The U.S. herd now has 29 million cows, the lowest level since 1962.

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