Cattle farmers still recovering after drought

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Farmers and ranchers are still recovering from dry conditions of the 2012 drought. Many of them flocked to the American Royal this week for the National Jr. Angus Competition.

Barbara Downey and her family of four have a ranch near Manhattan, Kan. Her two daughters showed off a bull and a cow at the competition. She says they are still in a dire situation, as their cattle population is down 10 percent.

"What it has done is it affects our income as farmers and ranchers," Downey said. "This is a recreational activity for us so funds are a little tighter when you're coming off a drought like this."

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. cattle herd shrunk for the sixth straight year in 2012, due to high feed costs tied to drought. That means consumers will continue paying record high prices for beef.

For ranchers, the cost to feed and take care of cattle has also gone up.

"We find our feed source is drying up and disappearing," Downey said. "Normally our cattle are out on grass year round and we've grown the last two years about half of the grass that we normally do."

U.S. cattle numbers have declined for several years as producers have encountered a number of hardships. The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Friday said the U.S.

Cattle herd was 89.30 million head, down 1.6 percent from a year earlier and the smallest U.S. herd since 1952.

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