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Source: American Farm Bureau Federation news release

Improved weather conditions and moderation in feed prices could show continued improvement for livestock markets in 2014, according to Dr. Derrell Peel, Extension livestock marketing specialist and professor of agribusiness at Oklahoma State University.

Peel addressed farmers and ranchers from across the country today during an issues conference at the American Farm Bureau Federation's 95th Annual Convention.

"The latter part of 2013 turned things around for most of the country, with drought conditions receding and increased market prices for beef," Peel said. "Livestock markets are looking strong for 2014."

Peel expressed extreme optimism for the cattle sector, predicting herd expansion for the next several years.

"Depending on the market and weather conditions, we have the potential to be in expansion mode for the rest of this decade. We haven't seen this scenario since the '90s," Peel said.

With cattle numbers at record lows since the 1950s, Peel said farmers and ranchers need to focus on expanding herds and responding to current markets.

"The incentives are there. We are at record prices and will move higher still," he said. "But how profitable producers will be is a function of managing costs and production."

Export markets will continue to be a strong outlet for farmers and ranchers in 2014, although Peel estimated a slight decrease in beef exports due to higher prices and lower production. American farmers are adapting to current conditions and are competitive in foreign markets, Peel said.

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