LINCOLN — Nebraska is No. 1 in cattle feeding, according to a new federal report.
The state took over the top spot from Texas, which has been hard hit by drought.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service monthly national report said that, at the beginning of February, Nebraska had 2.46 million cattle on feed in feedlots of 1,000 or more, compared with 2.44 million in Texas.
Gov. Dave Heineman hailed the news Tuesday, calling it a milestone for the state’s agriculture industry.
“Over the past decade, we have worked hard to develop and strengthen our corn, ethanol and cattle-feeding sectors for the good of the whole,” he said.
Drought contributed to Texas’ drop of 7 percent in cattle feeding numbers over the past year. Nebraska lost less than half a percent.
But Greg Ibach, the state agriculture director, downplayed the role of drought in boosting Nebraska to the top position. He said drought has been an industrywide concern and affected Nebraska producers as well.
Cattle on feed numbers have been declining in Texas for years, while those in Nebraska have been increasing.
Ibach said cattle feeding has been gravitating to Nebraska because of the confluence of corn, ethanol and packing plants here. Distillers grain, an ethanol byproduct, is used for cattle feed.
“We can grow it, feed it, process it and ship it overseas, all from Nebraska,” he said.
Nebraska remains far behind in the total number of cattle with 6.5 million head, compared with 10.9 million in Texas.