The nation's beef herd continues to decline. After several years of financial difficulty, producers show no interest in rebuilding the herd. As a result, beef supplies will continue to decline and prices will remain strong for several years to come. On the down side, however, beef consumption/person will lag and other animal species will gain larger market share in coming years, especially chicken.

The USDA estimates that beef cow numbers as of July 1, 2010 dropped to 31.7 million head, a decline of 2% from a year ago. Milk cow numbers were down 1%. Just as importantly, producers reported they were retaining 2% fewer beef heifers to go back into the herds. This seemingly assures that beef cow numbers will continue to drop into early 2011.

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