Plans to open two new cattle slaughter plants, and the announcement that another will avoid the chopping block, are clear signals that Iowa’s cattle industry is gaining strength as feeders take advantage of the state’s abundant feed supplies. And that points to good things for livestock farmers and the entire Iowa economy.

"Any time you have more players in the market, that’s a better situation for cattlemen as there’s more competition for those cattle," said Lee Schulz, Iowa State University (ISU) Extension and Outreach livestock economist. "That gives them more opportunities to market at different locations; those plants have to compete for those cattle, which is supportive of prices."

With U.S. cattle supplies re­­maining extremely tight, Iowa is running counter to much of the rest of the United States, Schulz said. "We’ve seen plant closures for beef around the country, and we haven’t seen those in Iowa because while the national herd has decreased, we’ve stabilized because we are so competitive in cattle feeding," he said.

The news about Iowa’s beef success also...