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      Cattle farming on the decline

      You may shell out more for your beef in the coming years. That's because cattle production is down in many areas of the country.

      According to the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, numbers of beef cattle are down eight million from nearly 30 years ago.

      Trevor Toland has been a cattle farmer near Macomb for 40 years. He says Illinois saw 50 thousand fewer sales of beef cattle last year than in previous years. He's concerned about the future of the beef business.

      Toland said, "Illinois is already a beef deficient state. We raise only 20 percent of the beef in the state that's consumed here."

      But fewer cows in the state doesn't mean people are eating less beef. Toland says declining cattle numbers are due to a couple of factors. The first being increasing competition for pasture land.

      Due to the prices for corn and soybeans many farmers are converting pasture land like this into fields for crops.

      Deer outfitting is also raising prices for grazing land, making it harder for beef producers to raise more cows. Another reason- the majority of beef producers are beginning to retire, with fewer young farmers around to take their places.

      The good news is although the numbers of beef cattle are going down, the cows sold are heavier -- keeping the amount of meat in the market virtually the same.

      Although some western states are still big beef producers, you may end up paying more at the store...because it takes more money to transport your favorite steak and hamburger to your area.

      Although the numbers of cattle in the market are on the decline, Toland says beef prices are relatively stable.