Agriculture is Missouri’s number one industry, but many in the industry worry about the state’s number one agricultural segment.
Missouri ranks second in cow-calf production, for now. Jeff Windett with the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association says beef producers are struggling.
"I think it’s fair to say that Missouri is undergoing a restructuring of the livestock industry in the state," Windett told a legislative hearing held this year. "It should come as no surprise to anyone in production agriculture and more specifically beef production that the last year and a half has been very challenging."
The high cost of feed, fuel and fertilizer combined with a weakened dollar has hit ranchers hard, according to Windett, especially those with 30-cow herds or less. Cattle numbers in Missouri have fallen 300,000 to 400,000 head as producers get out of the business. The loss of 200,000 feeder cattle has cost the state $120 million.
Missouri legislators talked a lot about agriculture this session. Yet, little was done to address the problems agriculture is facing.
The present for the beef industry might seem bleak, but the future, according to Windett, can be bright.
"When we look at the beef industry in Missouri, we’re in a very great position, geographically to the rest of the country. Our cattle can go anywhere, can adapt and are genetically superior," Windett said. "We have the number one seed stock industry in the country."
Windett sees a bright future if the state’s political leaders wake up and address the problems which are undermining Missouri’s beef producers.