South Dakota cattle producer says despite headwinds, he’s optimistic about the future

A South Dakota cow/calf operator and president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association says he isn’t surprised that the cattle herd hasn’t started to expand. Todd Wilkinson the price point is cost prohibitive. “If you’re going to go out and purchase replacement heifers right now, it’s pretty expensive,” he says. “It’s a very capital-intensive investment.”

He tells Brownfield it’s especially challenging right now for cattle producers in drought-stricken areas. “With crops less than stellar, it’s a tough decision to make because you need you need enough cash flow to come in to make it work,” he says. 

Wilkinson says the industry won’t be in contraction mode forever. “I think we’re going to get there with getting the herd built back up,” he says.  “But it’s going to take some time and that’s maybe not so bad because it will give us the ability to capitalize on better markets.”

The USDA’s July Cattle Inventory report showed beef replacement heifers were down from 2022 and the latest Cattle on Feed report showed nearly 40% of cattle on-feed were heifers.

Brownfield interviewed Wilkinson during the NCBA’s recent Summer Business Meeting in San Diego, CA.

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