The Kansas beef industry represents a major economic activity in the
Kansas economy. In terms of gross cash receipts, the $4.07 billion of
cattle marketings represents 58 percent of all agricultural marketings
and 89 percent of livestock and poultry marketings for the most currently
available year. These percentages have remained relatively stable over
the past decade as crop prices and production levels in Kansas have
not fluctuated very dramatically. In recent years, levels of profitability
in the Kansas agricultural economy have been directly related to performance
in the livestock sector.
Although the beef feedlot industry is continuing to consolidate into
fewer and larger operations, the cow-calf sector remains quite dispersed.
The cow herd tends to locate near the low cost forages. The larger supplies
and lower prices associated with the cattle cycle point to a period
in which the less efficient producers may not survive and more efficient
operations will dominate the industry. While many inputs (feed, labor,
utilities, trucking, etc.) will still be provided locally, less will
be needed per unit of output. Because cattle production units will be
larger on average than they are today, total economic activity may remain
stable or increase for regions that have production units.
The beef industry is also slowly transforming from a commodity to
a production orientation with increased interest in value based marketing
and retained ownership. These trends will place greater value on superior
cattle and on information systems that will accurately relate value
through the marketing channel. New products will have to meet the requirements
for fresh, processed, HRI (Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutions), retail,
and international markets. As a result, the different segments of the
marketing channel will communicate more closely with one another. This
communication, either formal via specification contracts or informal,
will coordinate to deliver cattle with specific characteristics for
a given product line and synchronize production flow to more efficiently
utilize processing capacity. The additional handling and processing
associated with these new markets will mean additional value-added jobs
in Kansas' agri- industries.
The beef industry is also quickly evolving to an integrated forage
and beef system approach to production. Once the market place identifies
the genetic characteristics of cattle to fill a particular market niche,
the genetics will determine the needed nutrition, grazing and feeding
program. Using this system approach to beef production, Kansas producers
will remain competitive in the cattle industry and the global protein
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