USDA weekly crop progress reports also highlight pasture and range conditions by state. This data is critical as it gives the industry the first glance at how serious drought conditions could be across the country. When comparing this data with state-level beef cow inventory numbers, approximately 38.52% (11.6 million) of beef cows in the U.S. are in pasture or range areas rated poor or very poor.

Of that acreage, the states with the highest number of cattle inventory on poor or very poor lands include Texas (10.99%), Nebraska (4.44%), Montana (3.84%), South Dakota (3.10%) and Oklahoma (2.75%). What does data mean? It could hint that there could be significantly lighter placement weights into feedlots as cow-calf producers run out of usable grass.

Fortunately, the USDA offers risk management strategies to help producers safeguard their operation. Livestock Risk Protection (LRP) insures against declining market prices, while Pasture, Rangeland, Forage (PRF) insurance protects against forage loss due to a lack of precipitation.

Read more on cattle inventory and forage conditions here.