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USDA stats show challenges for Idaho ranchers

Published On: Nov 27 2012 11:25:24 PM CST

Red meat production way down


Some startling statistics for Idaho ranchers have been released by the USDA. Since last year, the state's red meat production has been cut in half.

Rough times for ranchers can be bad news for the gem state as a whole. Raising cattle is a major part of the state economy, and the second largest segment of agriculture in dollar value.

"All of that goes on in the rural area, and everyone who's involved and the people who supply them and people that they sell to, it's a big part of agriculture and the rural economies for the state,” USDA Idaho Field Office Director Vince Matthews said.

The USDA said much of the drop this year can be blamed on the closing of the large meat packing plant.

But ranchers are still facing obstacles, the Idaho Farm Bureau said herds are at a record low.

"Herd sizes are down, and they are going to continue to go down as long as we are in a drought season,” Local rancher Christopher Dalley said.

A painfully long dry spell has put some ranchers in a tough spot, trying to find ways to keep their cattle fed.

"The thing that we're facing right now, is we're out of feed. The range we were on we've had to come off a little early because it was so dry and we didn't get any rain and we are out of feed,” Dalley said.

But, as hard as the drought can be for local farmers and ranchers, it seems many other states have been hit far worse.

"It has affected crops in the midwest to a great degree but Idaho is not as effected because of the tremendous amount of irrigation,” Matthews said.