Fewer Cows Means Fewer Feedlots, Meatpackers

WICHITA, Kan. (February 24, 2013)—The stubborn drought is reshaping the beef industry as feedlots and a major meatpacking plant close because there are too few cattle left to supply them.

Some feedlots in major cattle-producing states have been dismantled, and others sit empty.

Operators say they don't expect a recovery anytime soon, with high feed prices, much of the country in drought and a long time needed to rebuild herds.

For consumers, the impact will be felt in grocery and restaurant bills.

Amarillo broker Dick Bretz says most of the bad news is in Texas, which is where there are the most empty feedlots, the most interest in selling, and the least interest in buying.

Most experts estimate the cattle feeding industry now has an excess capacity of 20 to 25 percent.


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