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BrownfieldAgNews reports:

It looks like the long-awaited expansion of the nation's beef cattle herd is finally gaining some momentum.

Heifer slaughter is down seven percent and beef cow slaughter down 16 percent in 2014. Kevin Good, senior market analyst with CattleFax, says if the trend continues, the cow herd could increase by up to two million head-from the current 29 million up to 31 million-by 2018.

"If moisture conditions stay as good or improved going forward, and that's always a big 'if'," Good says. "But doggone, the profitability is there to get after it and expand."

National Cattlemen's Beef Association president Bob McCan, a rancher from south Texas, says much better weather in 2014 has cattlemen in that part of the country thinking expansion.

"You know, it's an expensive proposition right now, but our markets are good and our folks have built a lot of equity in their companies," McCan says. "So I think they can realize that this is a good time to go ahead and make that big investment to kind of expand their businesses-and I think they see the returns."

Good thinks 2015 prices and profitability, for all segments of the industry, could be just as good-or better-than 2014.

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