Optimism about U.S. beef industry prospects in the short and long term remains robust, but just a step off the pace of 2010 and 2011, according to the latest BEEF magazine reader survey. The producer optimism index (POI), as measured by the annual survey of BEEF magazine readers, hit its apex in 2010, rising dramatically from the previous survey in 2008. The POI moderated slightly lower from that lofty perch in 2011 and looks essentially flat in 2012.

“The results reveal that short-term optimism among readers continues to run high. This optimism is driven by current favorable supply/demand fundamentals and the current high prices for both calves and feeder cattle,” summarizes BEEF Research Manager Scott Grau.

“Meanwhile, long-term optimism continues to be positive, but more restrained. While supply/demand fundamentals and international demand are positive influences, the overall mood seems tempered by the effect of increased input costs and concern over growing government regulation and oversight,” he adds.

The email survey was sent to 24,000 BEEF readers regarding their industry attitudes and management actions. A total of 1,200 usable surveys were returned for an effective response rate of 4.8%.

While survey respondents remain optimistic about industry prospects, a majority report a more dismal perception of the general economy’s direction. When asked whether the U.S. is headed in the right direction, 55.1% of respondents said no, while 24% said yes. Another 20.9% didn’t know (Figure 10).

And it appears that displeasure will translate into anti-incumbent fervor in the fall elections (Figure 11). When asked which party they were most likely to vote for in 2012, 74.8% said Republican, while 7.8% indicated Democrat. Another 13.2% were undecided, while 4.2% said neither.