WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ A new government report says drought has spurred declines in the nation's cattle herd.
The National Agricultural Statistics Service said Friday that the number of cattle and calves in the United States as of July 1 totaled 97.8 million head. That's 2 percent fewer cattle than a year ago.
It's also the lowest number since the agency began documenting July cattle numbers in 1973. The agency now estimates the size of the herd each January and July.
The calf crop is down 2 percent from a year ago with 34.5 million calves expected to be born this year.
Agriculture economics associate professor Glynn Tonser of Kansas State University says this reflects a multi-year trend of falling cow numbers that was sped up by the Southern Plains drought last year.
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