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  • By Lynda Kiernan-Stone, Global AgInvesting Media

Tyson Foods Announces Beef Production Cuts Because of Cattle Shortage

Tyson Foods, the largest U.S. meat processor, has announced it is immediately and permanently stopping beef production at its plant in Dennison, Iowa because of a lack of cattle following the severe Midwestern drought.

Closures and work-stoppages in the industry are becoming more common as cattle ranchers work to rebuild a much diminished U.S. herd. On July 30, Cargill Inc. announced it too is closing its Milwaukee, Wisconsin beef processing plant due to tight cattle supplies. Last year the U.S. cattle herd fell to its lowest numbers since 1951 at 89 million head, according to the U.S. government’s January 1 report.

Tyson’s plant in Dennison had a slaughter capacity of 2,000 head for a five-day work week, and although it is the group’s smallest beef plant, it represents 2% of the total U.S. steer and heifer slaughter capacity, according to industry experts. Animals that can no longer be processed at the Dennison plant will be sent to Tyson’s other plants in the region including its newly expanded site in Dakota City, Nebraska which has a slaughter capacity of 6,000 head.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (IUSDA’s) semi-annual cattle report has indicated however, that the U.S. herd is indeed rebuilding. As of July 1 the herd was up 2% from a year ago to 98.4 million head, driven by cheaper feed and improved grazing pastures.

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