US cattle numbers as low as they were in 1950s

By Oli Haenlein

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Cattle Meat Beef Livestock

The drop in American cattle numbers, mainly due to drought, is having a serious effect on the US meat industry, according to Texan meat scientist professor Jeff Savell.

Talking in the ‘A view from across the pond’ section of the Eblex Processor Conference in the UK last week, Savell said that the challenge in the US is reduced numbers, which are currently similar to those seen in the 1950s at about 87 million.

Savell explained that much of this was down to drought. Addressing the conference at the Stratford Manor Hotel, he said: "We’d love to take some floods from you and send you some drought. Texas and Nebraska is where the cows are, but the water is running out."

The lack of numbers is having a knock-on effect on the rest of the industry too. Savell continued: "It’s having a ripple effect on the packing industry and a lot of plants are closing. There will be more closures but no one knows who is going to be next."

The National Beef Company in Brawley, California is going to close in April 2014, while Cargill Meat Solutions in Plainview Texas closed in February of last year.

The expert added that another contributitor to the drop in numbers was the slow uptake of country of origin labelling: "The US was late to the table and couldn’t get its act together." 

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