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Cattle numbers drop; state herd down 18 percent

WEST LAFAYETTE – A Purdue Extension scientist says U.S. cattle numbers have dropped to their lowest level since 1952 following last year’s record-setting drought.

Agricultural economist Christ Hurt says Central and Southern Plains states have struggled hardest as the drought forced ranchers to reduce their herds, but the eastern Corn Belt hasn’t been immune.

A U.S. Department of Agriculture report shows Indiana’s beef herd has dropped by 18 percent since 2007. In 2012, the state lost 2 percent of the herd, or about 4,000 beef cows.

Hurt says the beef industry has had to compete with other sectors for expensive feed and land that’s being converted to corn and soybean acreage.

Hurt says stopping the decline would require more rain and lower feed prices.