U.S. Livestock Production Declines, Interest in Plant-Based Diets on the Rise

Weather, disease, and California’s intense drought are being blamed for decreased livestock production, particularly for beef and poultry products across the U.S., according to the most recent Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook report.

According to the report, there are issues all across the livestock production supply chain, spelling trouble for the nation’s livestock farmers.

Dairy cow slaughter (which often goes into low-cost ground beef products) has increased due to dropping milk prices and price forecasts, explains Global Meat News, but beef cow slaughter is on the decline as the industry faces low cow inventories.

Turkey production has also dropped and is expected to remain lower than last year, with the avian flu outbreak largely to blame. As Organic Authority recently reported, the avian flu epidemic is critically impacting the nation’s egg and chicken producers, and has already wiped out 31 million chickens. It’s actually increasing demand for organic, cage-free egg products. “The decline in production of table eggs has pressured prices higher,” reports The Poultry Site. “Wholesale egg prices in May and June and into July were sharply higher than the previous year, affecting consumers and restaurant traders.”

The news also comes as interest in vegan and vegetarian diets are on the rise in the U.S. According to Google, trends in searches on the vegan diet have skyrocketed in recent years, and an independent study found that 2.5 percent of the population now identify as vegan, more than double the number in 2009. The vegan diet abstains from any animal products for both health and ethical reasons.

Interest in organic and ethically raised animal products is also taking a toll on conventional livestock operations. With undercover investigations occurring more frequently, consumers are getting unpleasant glimpses into the world of animal production—and for many, it’s ruining their appetite for meat.

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Cattle image via Shutterstock