Tough Times For Montana Ranchers as Cattle Prices Plummet by Nearly 50 Percent
Cattle ranchers in Montana are facing a tough market this year as calf prices plummet.
“A couple of years ago the calf prices in Montana were selling just a little less than three dollars a pound in that two seventy-five to three dollar a pound sort of range,” said MSU economist George Haynes. “Today calves are selling at less than that one dollar and fifty cents sort of range, so it has been really a substantial downturn in calf prices, when you look at what they have and what they were able to get in 2014.”
This downturn will impact all Montanans indirectly as Montana’s agriculture sector is a major player in the state’s economy.
“The livestock and crop sector in Montana is probably around 13 percent or something like that, both the crop and livestock, sectors are down substantially now, so it has some impact," Haynes said. “ These businesses are less profitable; they have less money to spend at implement dealers and supply folks, so it ripples through the economy like that so it has an impact.”
Haynes says that the downturn in prices will put a lot of pressure on ranches that expanded in recent years, but says that most Montana Ranchers are pretty conservative and are likely able to weather the ups and downs of the market.