South Dakota livestock producers last year had a much better financial year than in 2012, thanks to better weather and higher market prices, according to data from the Farm and Ranch Business Management Program at Mitchell Technical Institute.
The program relies on data from farmers and ranchers across the state. It concluded that the average South Dakota cattle rancher made a profit of more than $36 per cow last year — compared to a $27 loss per cow the year before, when drought forced many ranchers to move their animals off dried-up pastures and buy more hay.
Beef prices also rose last year, as cattle numbers nationwide dwindled and export demand grew. That helped offset a slight over-the-year increase in the cost of maintaining a cow due to higher feed prices.
"We felt a lot of different effects in 2012 related to the drought and other factors," Jared Hofer, director of the South Dakota Center for Farm and Ranch Management at MTI, told The Daily Republic newspaper. "Then you look at 2013 and that helped a lot. The prices have gone up, and if you've managed costs, there's a chance for profitability."
Hog farmers in the state also enjoyed a good year in 2013. The average hog-finishing operation in South Dakota made just under $16 per 100 pounds of pork produced — compared with less than $2 per 100 pounds in 2012. Hofer said 2014 is shaping up to be another good year.
"Hog prices have gone up and the previously high feed prices have dropped some," Hofer said. "With some of the other aspects like disease being an issue, there's a good chance that price goes up in 2014."
Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus has killed millions of pigs in more than two dozen states since showing up in the U.S. a year ago.