Half of the nation’s beef herd — around 16 million head — is in the Great Plains, and the industry generates more than $8.56 billion in annual cash receipts alone in Texas. But increasing climate variability, namely as it relates to precipitation, could begin to endanger the consistent viability of the region’s landscape to support the herd, according to a report released Monday by a group of university researchers. In the face of increased climate variability that will “challenge rangeland beef cattle production” in the region, the scientists recommend growing preparedness for weather extremes, namely precipitation in the southern Plains, in order to sustain adequate forage and feed supplies to support the herd. The research shows the number of forage-deficient years have increased in frequency from Kansas to Texas in the last few years, and that kind of variability is expected to continue to ramp up in coming years. See more from the new research.