The decade ending in 2010 will likely be recognized as the last decade during which the beef industry experienced defined cyclical changes in beef cow inventories and prices (the traditional beef cattle cycle).

Between 1998 and 2002, the beef cow herd was reduced by 700,000 head. In contrast, during the previous five years (1993 to 1997), the U.S. beef cow herd experienced a 2-million head swing. Beef cow inventories prior to 1993 had greater swings yet.

Instead, since 2003, the U.S. beef cow herd has continued to shrink; from 33 million to 30.9 million. In spite of this, U.S. beef production was only reduced by 700 million lbs. between 2003 and 2010.

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