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Cattle producers young and old should plan accordingly for drought

By Missy Hodgin
Texas AgriLife Agent

Texas beef cattle producers should plan for future periods of dry conditions as drought patterns exhibited in the 1950s continue to prevail in current models, according to an expert.

“We are still reliving the 1950s drought-producing pattern with periodic breaks,” Brian Bledsoe, a weather forecaster who is featured monthly in Southern Livestock Standard, recently told 1,400 attendees at the Texas A&M Beef Cattle Short Course in College Station.

Bledsoe said when he speaks to young farmers and ranchers who are thinking about taking over operations from their fathers, he says, “have a drought plan…because we are going to have more dry years than wet years.”

Bledsoe said computer models forecasted for the next 90 days are going to be “pretty status quo.”

“At least through August, with the exception of tropical storm activity, the prospects of seeing significant rain in Texas aren’t looking great.”

Looking ahead, Bledsoe said come spring of next year, March through May, could “potentially be wet months.”

He said for now, it will be a drier and warmer-than-normal fall going into early winter, with potential for a possible El Nino trend in early 2014. However, Bledsoe said, “Remember, we are still reliving the 1950s drought-producing pattern with periodic breaks.”

The opening general session titled “Ranching Into the Future” featured presentations on weather, cattle market outlook and other industry issues.

Don Close, vice president for food and agriculture research with Rabobank, discussed the outlook for beef demand and trends in protein consumption across the U.S.

He said thinking beyond the traditional mindset of beef consumption, eating habits are changing, especially as cultural diversification among the U.S. population continues. He cited Houston as the most diversified city in the U.S. per ethnic groups and how protein consumption differs compared to decades ago.

He said the beef industry has a great story.

“Go tell it,” he said. “Beef production does not end at the ranch gate. Consumer interest in food and where it comes from is only going to increase. Nobody in the world can tell your story better than you can. Tell the story, please.”

The beef short course event showcases the latest research and educational programs offered by AgriLife Extension, Texas A&M AgriLife Research and the department of animal science at Texas A&M. The annual event is one of the largest beef-education workshops in the country, and has become one of the largest and most comprehensive beef cattle educational programs in the U.S., according to organizers.

“The goal of the short course each year is to provide the most cutting-edge information that is needed by beef cattle producers,” Cleere said. “We think we have information for everyone to take home and apply to their operations.”


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The Pioneer Sentinel is an online newspaper designed to deliver the news of Clay County, Texas, in a concise and community-friendly format.

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