March 2008
On the Edge of Common Sense

Century Cattle Business Predictions Update

by Baxter Black, DVM

In 1988, prezactly 20 years ago, I wrote a column predicting what the livestock industry will be like 50 years later; 2038.

Some of my predictions were:

- 90 % of meals will be eaten out. Home cookin’ will not exist.

- Fertile agricultural land will be scarce.

- The cessation of grain feeding to livestock.

- Cattle will be slaughtered at 12 months of age.

- Feedlot cattle will eat garbage, recycled manure and ethanol pulp.

- Calf birth weights will be 30 lbs.

- Feedlots will be demanding that cattle have bones like a chicken, loins like a dachshund and the digestive system of a goat!

- And packers will be financing research to develop cattle without hair, ears, tails, spleens, lungs, kidneys and feet.

Much of my prediction depends on genetic manipulation and digestive chemical technology. It also relies on the presumption that the population and urbanization of the best farm ground will increase exponentially. Now, 2008, 20 years down the road, we are steadily making progress to prove many of my postulations true.

What I did not take into account was:

- Worldwide zoonoses, particularly BSE and its changelings.

- Catastrophic natural or unnatural occurrences, i.e., global cooling, global warming, a devastating epidemic like the 1918 flu, AIDS2, nuclear war, sunspots, despotism, famine and/or the Second Coming.

I admit I don’t spend much time anguishing about the world’s uncontrollable forces. I am an agricultural person. I will concentrate on doing what I do best —- which is to feed the world. Whether there is a bubonic plague or tripling of the world population in 30 years, it’s our job to produce enough food, sufficiently efficient to ensure the masses something to eat every day.

I cannot predict America will always be the land of luxury where you can buy a 99¢ Wendy burger that would feed an entire family of four in the oppressed country of Sudan today. But I am counting on the ag community responding to the demands the world will make on it in the next 30 years and our country’s greatest strength, our generosity, will keep us strong.

God Bless America.

NOTE: Baxter’s previous column, March 2, 1988, is available at

Baxter Black is a former large animal veterinarian who can be followed nationwide through this column, National Public Radio, public appearances, television and also through his books, cds, videos and website,