One advantage of keeping records is the ability to look back in time. Time changes everything, but that everything may be big for some and small for others.
The question asked more frequently today is: What is the future of the beef business? The question is not too difficult to answer. However, before one answers, it doesn't hurt to look back as well as forward.
Although those in the beef business are spread throughout the world, my little area is North Dakota, which is a great spot in the upper northern Great Plains.
The first point that needs to be noted is that the beef business does not stand alone. The beef business, which is the business of producing food to feed people, is a subset of agriculture. Therefore, one needs to look at the big picture of agriculture.
Using North Dakota as an example, the North Dakota Agricultural Statistics Service reported that in 2001, there were 30,300 farms that were farming 39.4 million acres out of a total of 44.2 million acres.
Ten years later, the 2011 report indicated there were 31,900 farms in North Dakota farming 39.6 million acres. Not a large difference.
In terms of principal crops, the 2001 report noted there were 22.4 million acres planted. In 2011, the report noted that there were 22.6 million acres planted to principal crops. Again, not a large difference. In terms of hay production, the
2001 report shows 2.5 million acres, while the 2011 report noted 2.6 million acres. Not a large difference.
Land mass and acres would not be expected to change. The use of those acres in terms of plants also does not seem to change much. The plant type may change in any given year, but the bulk of agriculture very obviously is plant-based, so maybe the statement that time changes everything is not true.
Maybe the concern over decreased livestock production is not as significant as originally thought. Beef cattle need plants to live, so ample plants and plant products should mean plenty of beef cattle. However, if plant usage is looked at, one has to ask: Are the plants used for direct human use or routed through the livestock? The answer is critical.
Changes in the beef cow inventory should be indicative of any changes in the beef production units available to harvest plants through the cows. The 2001 North Dakota Agricultural Statistics Service report noted that there were more than 1 million beef cows in the state. The 2011 report showed there were 880,000 head. That is a drop of 122,000 beef cows since the turn of the century.