The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Tornado Outbreak 2011

July 8, 2011

Cattle farmers work to put storm’s effects behind them

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Editor’s Note: This is the last of two parts in a series about how farmers are recovering from the April 27 storms. See part 1 in link at right.

The average Limestone Countian may enjoy a good hamburger or steak from time to time, but it’s easy to take the source for granted.

Raising cattle isn’t exactly easy work, and some of the county’s cattle farmers have worked harder than ever following the April 27 tornadoes.

The storms took a toll on the farming community as a whole, damaging wheat and littering fields with debris from as much as hundreds of miles away. It also claimed 14 heads of cattle.

Daveen Stanford of the Limestone County Cattlemen’s Association said in addition to the dead cattle, some fences were knocked down. She said farmers were lucky to have lost so few cows considering the amount of damage across the county — more than 700 homes were hit, 500 utility poles were felled, and countless businesses and outbuildings were damaged.

“Most of these cattle farmers have been raising cattle for so long, they don’t know any other way of life,” she said. “They don’t just do it for a living, they do it because they enjoy doing it.”

While cattle farming may have its rewards, it can also be expensive. Because grain prices have risen sharply over the past two years, and because it can take up to eight pounds of grain to produce a pound of beef, farmers in Alabama and across the U.S. have seen profit margins dwindle.

The week the EF5 tornado swept through Limestone County, the price of live cattle on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange was listed at $1.17 a pound, which is the average price of what a steer or cow would sell for at some future date.

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Tornado Outbreak 2011
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