The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture reports 2,000 more farms raised beef cows in 2009 than did in 2008. Janesville farmer, and President of the Wisconsin Beef Improvement Association, Al Arndt, says there are a lot of reasons for that. He says Rock County has ideal soil and transportation systems to support the farming operations. But, he says, the number of beef producers may also be impacted by other factors. He says farmers that don't want to expand dairy operations could turn to beef production and teens who raise beef cattle for the 4-H Fair may be considered producers. Another source for the state's statistics may be hobby farmers. He says the cost to operate farms is up, so hobby farmers may increase their operations or drop out all together.

Arndt also says beef producers have a thin profit margin so they have to be efficient. They also may look for ways to increase their profits by qualifying for premium or specialty grades of beef.

Wisconsin ranks 11th in the nation for total red meat production.

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