Friday, December 09, 2016

Down year for cattle hurting main street

What happens on the farm and feedlot is taking a toll at the mall and on main street. Ups and downs are one thing, but for ranchers like Barb Cooksley of Anselmo, it’s more like down and down. As she closes her term as president of the Nebraska Cattlemen, she reflected on a tough year for beef producers. She said, “We take that in stride, we decide this is a down year, we're not going to spend as much money.” A survey from the Nebraska Department of Agriculture and University of Nebraska backs up that point about spending. More than half of farmers and ranchers are putting off big ticket purchases on new equipment, and more than half say they are financially stressed. State Ag Director Greg Ibach said, “We did find that most producers have concerns, but they're optimistic that they'll be able to weather the storm.” And as agriculture goes, so goes main street. Ibach said, “I'm sure this Christmas season, towns like Kearney, Grand Island, Hastings are seeing the difference in the shopping that's going on, and we also see it in our state budget for some of the projections for the lower revenue there.” The cost of feed and fuel is down. But the head of the Cattlemen organization says the state has lost $2 billion in the cattle feeding sector, and cow–calf producers are also taking a hit. Pete McClymont said, “Two years ago, a basic calf that was sold by a rancher was worth about $1800. Today it's half, $900. So from that standpoint those are real dollars that are not in the community, in producers' hands.”...more

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