New census data released by the USDA in February provides reason for concern. The number of farms operating in the US and the number of farm acres have both fallen significantly. There were 141,733 fewer farms in 2022 than in 2017. The number of farm acres was reduced by a whopping 20 million acres in the same five-year period. This is very disturbing!

Also disturbing is the fact that the average age of farmers and ranchers continues to increase. Being a farmer and/or a rancher provides a great way of life, but in order for it to be sustainable (passed on to the next generation) it must be both profitable and enjoyable. Younger generations are finding ways to make a lot more money with a lot less labor. Can you blame them?

Closer to home… the number of beef cow operations has declined a whopping 31% in the last 25 years – with the biggest decline taking place in the last five-years. Nearly all of the decline has been that of smaller producers. While all of the so-called “experts” offer many reasons for this decline, I can sum it up with just one reason – lack of profit! It doesn’t have to be this way!

Much has changed in the last 50 years – and yet nearly all of today’s cow-calf producers (big and small) operate as though nothing has changed. Fifty years ago, you could purchase a new pickup truck for less than $5000. You could purchase gasoline for $0.30 per gallon. The average cost of agricultural land was only $200 per acre. Today, it is $3800 per acre! In the last 50 years, the cost of inputs has risen almost ten times faster than cattle prices. Much has changed in the last 50 years!

If you are a cow-calf producer, your survival will be dependent upon your ability to adapt and change with the times. The sooner you change, the better. The most profitable and successful cow-calf producers started to make the necessary changes 25 years ago. Over time, more and more producers have made those changes. There have always been huge benefits to being early to make necessary changes. There will always be huge consequences for being late.

I am sorely afraid we will experience a monumental fallout in family farms and ranches when cattle prices fall from these record-high levels. Please read the “Will You Survive the Fall” article in our Spring 2024 Newsletter. The time to make the necessary changes in your operation is NOW, while we have record-high cattle prices. Making those changes after cattle prices fall will be extremely difficult because survival will take precedence over all else.

Pharo Cattle Company has the genetics and the philosophies you need to survive the fall in cattle prices. We have the genetics and the philosophies you need to produce MORE for LESS! We have the genetics and philosophies you need to make your family farm profitable and enjoyable enough to be passed on to the next generation.

Quote Worth Re-Quoting

If you don’t change with the times, the times are going to change you.

Marv Levy
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