The changing U.S. livestock sector

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There have been some significant changes in the U.S. livestock sector over the past decade. Beef production has declined while pork and poultry production have increased. Total red meat and poultry production is up, but per capita consumption has declined over the last 10 years. Pork and poultry exports have increased significantly over the last 10 years while beef exports have struggled to recover following the BSE outbreak. But cattle numbers are declining, pulling down beef production from 2010 through this year and probably in 2014.

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The USDA data show that the number of livestock operations is declining, with a huge drop in the number of dairies. The industry has lost more than 28,000 dairy operations since 2003. The number of beef operations is down by 63,000 but the percentage decline is much smaller than that of the dairy industry. Some of the shifts in the structure of the livestock sector are shown in the following table.

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