It's a business born in the technological and industrial bustle that followed the G.I.s home after World War II. But in its short and exciting lifetime, cattle feeding in Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico has ridden the ups and downs of a market dictated by supply and demand and the changing needs of consumers the world over.
While the large and efficient feedyards that are the mark of Cattle Feeding Country today were largely built in the 1960s and early 1970s, cattle feeders in the area have been taking advantage of the efficiencies that confined feeding provides for 100 years or more. However, it wasn't until the late 1950s that the idea of feeding cattle in confinement became widely accepted. Two technological breakthroughs in that era paved the way--development of hybrid grains and the ability to tap the Ogallala Aquifer that lies deep beneath the ground.
In a very short time, farmers found themselves with abundant grain harvests. The area had always been cattle raising country, and a few far-sighted entrepreneurs looked at the emerging cattle feeding business growing on the West Coast and decided to build their own feedyards.
And the rest, as the old cliche goes, is history. By 1967, cattle feeding was well-established and growing in Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico. In May of that year, 10 cattle feeders met in Amarillo and formed the Texas Cattle Feeders Association (TCFA). In the years since, the upstart group grew along with the industry it represented to one of the most influential forces in agriculture.
Almost immediately, TCFA took a leadership role the political arena and as well as with industry issues, and continues to do so today. In fact, one of the first issues the new organization dealt with was helping feedyards sell cattle to packers and working with government agencies in developing workable environmental regulations. Those two issues remain.
And that was just the beginning. TCFA continues to hone its political edge and in the mid 1980s, instituted one of the most sophisticated and accurate market information services in the industry. These and other activities helped Texas become the nation's leader in cattle feeding, producing around 7 million fed cattle annually--30% of the nation's fed beef.
If the past is prologue, cattle feeders have a clear window to the future. Cattle
feeders and TCFA have a short, exciting and vibrant history and look
forward to an even brighter future.