Northern Ag Network
Northern Ag Network
Northern Broadcasting System    Northern News Network    Northern Sports Network
Search This Site...
Search This Site...
How the Deal Could Boost the U.S. Pulse and Barley Sectors

How the Deal Could Boost the U.S. Pulse and Barley Sectors

3/9/2018 4:02:00 PM/Categories: Popular Posts, General News, Today's Top 5, Livestock, Montana Stockgrowers Association

by Dr. Anton Bekkerman, Associate Professor at Montana State University, Department of Agricultural Economics


The team has written and chatted about the recent agreement between the Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA) and the Chinese retailer to supply Montana-branded beef to Chinese consumers. Despite the tremendous promise this agreement provides to the economic development of Montana’s cattle industry, there are also significant uncertainties about whether there exists a sufficient infrastructure for finishing and processing cattle in Montana to meet the increased local demand. As Dr. Eric Belasco notes in a previous post, the northern Great Plains region currently has a comparative disadvantage in both producing traditional feed components (corn and soybeans) and processing fed cattle.


The Montana-based processing constraint may be overcome with constructing a strategically-located facility, for which the agreement includes provisions for up to a $100 million investment in such a facility. However, there still remains the issue of developing an infrastructure for finishing cattle. One of the largest barriers to this is the fact that corn and soybeans—the primary inputs into modern feed—are not produced in sufficient quantity in Montana or in surrounding regions. For example, in the past ten years, the northern U.S. region of Idaho, Montana, western North Dakota, and Wyoming produced approximately 0.3% of all corn grown in the United States (USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service). As such, feed would need to be delivered from the Midwest and central Great Plains, which could simply be too cost-prohibitive.


But what if there were alternative feed ingredients that could be produced in sufficient quantities in the northern United States? There is research that suggests this may be the case (for example, hereherehere, here, and here). Specifically, there is some evidence that a feed ration comprised of barley and pulse crops could offer an alternative to the traditional corn–soybean diet. For these crops, the northern U.S. already has a large production comparative advantage, with Idaho–Montana–North Dakota producing, on average, over 70% of all U.S. barley and 87% of U.S. peas and lentils over the past decade (USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service).


If a cost-effective barley–pulse feed alternative were to be developed, it could provide several important benefits to both the northern U.S. livestock and crops industries. Several examples include:


  • Reduction in transportation and other marketing costs (and possibly uncertainty) for procuring feed.
  • Enhancing branding opportunities for cattle raised on non-GMO feed, because neither barley nor pulse crops are currently produced using genetically modified varieties. This could increase marketability in markets where consumers place particularly high value on this beef characteristic (including China, Europe, and the growing and increasingly influential U.S. millennial market).
  • Reduction in the uncertainty of marketing pulse crops and barley that does not make malting grade. Diversifying the marketing portfolio for these crops may be particularly helpful given recent uncertainties and market uncertainties in both the pulse and barley markets.
  • Increased demand and, likely, prices for northern U.S. pulse crops and feed barley.
  • Possible demand increase for local pulse and barley processing services for developing optimal feed.
  • Potential agronomic, soil health, and environmental improvements from intensifying traditional wheat–fallow cropping systems, which are still prevalent in the northern U.S. region.


Certainly, additional research is needed to identify potential opportunities and trade-offs associated with implementing alternative cattle feeding strategies in the northern U.S. region. However, these innovations could significantly reshape and increase synergies among the region’s numerous agricultural sectors.


What are your thoughts about this potential? Have you had experience using barley and pulse crops in animal feed or marketing your small grains and pulse crops for use in feed?



Originally published at AgEconMT by Dr. Bekkerman on March 5, 2018

Photo courtesy of USDA NRCS


Leave a comment

Add comment


Recent Ag News

Wyoming Ranchers Win Right to Be Heard to Defend Against Grizzly Bears Predation

3/20/2018 9:39:00 AM
DENVER, CO. Today, a federal judge agreed that Wyoming ranchers add an important voice to the discussion over how to deal with the rebounded grizzly bear population around Yellowstone National Park. For decades, ranchers such as Charles C. Price and Mary E. Thoman have dealt with the deadly and dangerous effects of the growing grizzly bear population in their backyards but will finally be able to join with the court in ensuring all parties know the true effects of the grizzly bear. Mr. Price and Ms. Thoman, and their fellow ranchers lose countless numbers of livestock due to grizzly bear kills every year. Mr. Price and other ranchers in the Upper Green River Valley lost 71 cattle to confirmed grizzly bear kills in 2017 alone. Ms. Thoman and her family have not only lost countless sheep to grizzly bear kills, but also one of the family’s shepherds was mauled by a female grizzly bear in 2010. Those trying to make an honest living in rural western Wyoming are forced to expend a vast amount of money to try to protect themselves, their employees, and their livelihoods from the unrestrained predation by the ever-growing grizzly bear population. >> Read More
Article rating: No rating

NCBA Announces 2018 Stockmanship and Stewardship Events

3/20/2018 4:56:00 AM
Stockmanship and Stewardship events provide beef and dairy producers with hands-on training, cattle handling demonstrations, beef quality assurance (BQA) certifications and more. >> Read More
Article rating: No rating

Senate Ag Committee Recognizes MT FFA President

3/19/2018 10:51:00 AM
March is Women's History Month, and the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry is celebrating women in agriculture. Today the committee recognized Sheridan Johnson, a 4th generation wheat farmer from Conrad, Montana - and Montana FFA Association president. >> Read More
Article rating: No rating

USCA Petition for Rulemaking on "Fake Meat" Under Consideration

3/16/2018 1:36:00 PM
(WASHINGTON) – The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has posted for public comment the United States Cattlemen’s Association’s (USCA) petition for rulemaking on the definitions of “beef” and “meat”. The deadline for letters of support is April 10th. >> Read More
Article rating: No rating

Montana Ranchers to Support USCA Truthful Beef Labeling

3/16/2018 1:29:00 PM
The United States Cattlemen’s Association’s (USCA) efforts on truthful beef labeling will be supported this month with multiple fundraising events being organized by producers across the state on Montana. >> Read More
Article rating: No rating

Find Articles by Date

«March 2018»