Date of Award:
Master of Science (MS)
The Utah cattle industry generates 20.6% of sales value for the agricultural sector. As well, this industry encompasses about 34.4% of Utah farms. Besides these figures, Utah cattle ranchers depend heavily upon both public and private lands for grazing as a primary source of feed for their herds. The soil moisture levels of pasturelands impacts the forage yield for a particular year. As a result, the primary purpose of this research is to determine if drought impacts Utah county cattle inventory numbers and what the magnitude of the impact is by analyzing data from 1981 to 2016. A secondary purpose of this research is also to estimate the potential economic impact drought has had on the Utah cattle industry. In looking at this effect, county-level PDSI data was collected and utilized in this study in a dynamic panel model. The results of this model showed that a moderate drought that would have an annual average PDSI index number between -2 and -2.99 was significant and would lead to cattle inventory numbers being decreased by 1,605 head of cattle at the county level. The research also showed that an unusually moist, very moist, and incredibly moist spell in the previous year in a particular county was also statistically significant and would decrease the following years county cattle inventory numbers by 752, 1,560, and 5,219 head of cattle respectively. Based off of the model it is estimated at the county level if in the previous year there was a moderate drought that the next year at the county level could reach $3.92 million. The economic impact at the Utah state level in the following year could reach $113.68 million. These values are according to the 2019 value per head of cattle that were reported by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Openshaw, Fred, "Utah County Level Drought Effect on Cattle Inventories 1981-2016" (2020). All Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 7786.
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