Hilgardia
Hilgardia
Hilgardia
University of California
Hilgardia

California's cattle and beef industry at the crossroads

Authors

Matt A. Andersen
Steven C. Blank
Tiffany LaMendola
Richard J. Sexton

Authors Affiliations

T. LaMendola is Director of Economic Research, Western United Dairymen. Blank is Member and Sexton is Director, Giannini Foundation of Agricultural Economics. We gratefully acknowledge the contributions to this project by Larry Forero, Franz Rolofson, Jim Farley, Marc Horney and Glen Nader, UC Cooperative Extension livestock advisors; R.J. Sexton is Professor, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, UC Davis; Blank is Member and Sexton is Director, Giannini Foundation of Agricultural Economics. We gratefully acknowledge the contributions to this project by Larry Forero, Franz Rolofson, Jim Farley, Marc Horney and Glen Nader, UC Cooperative Extension livestock advisors.

Publication Information

Hilgardia 56(5):152-156. DOI:10.3733/ca.v056n05p152. September 2002.

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Abstract

Beef cattle remain one of California's most important agricultural products, ranking fifth in 2001 at $1.35 billion in value of production, behind dairy, grapes, nursery products and lettuce. However, technological change, coupled with declining consumption of red meats during the 1970s and 1980s, triggered a wave of mergers and acquisitions in the beef-processing sector. To evaluate how such trends are affecting the industry in California, we undertook a survey during 2000 and 2001 and obtained responses from ranchers in 40 counties. Our results confirm that the industry appears to be at a crossroads, for a variety of reasons. Cow-calf ranching operations now predominate, and a significant percentage of cattle leave the state for feeding and slaughter. Auction yards, a principal marketing outlet for most of the survey respondents, require a large volume of activity in order to operate efficiently. As aging ranchers exit the business, this important exchange mechanism is threatened, possibly contributing to the industry's further decline. Most ranchers reported having five or fewer potential buyers for their cattle.

References

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Andersen M, Blank S, LaMendola T, Sexton R. 2002. California's cattle and beef industry at the crossroads. Hilgardia 56(5):152-156. DOI:10.3733/ca.v056n05p152
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