After cattle herds were decimated by drought a year ago, cattlemen have bounced back with bigger checks coming in and smaller checks going out.
"It was looking at a real roller coaster year," explained Nebraska Cattlemen President Elect Jeff Rudolph. "We've seen record high beef prices both in the spring and just recently, and at the same time, we've seen feed costs go from record high to dramatically lower."
Ration prices have dropped $100 a ton in 100 days. But cattlemen say their optimism starts with the much needed rainfall we received.
Cattlemen Executive Pete McClymont said, "After 2012 we need that. Subsoil moisture isn't there, but none the less, people can have grass, have crops, and we've got optimism and hopefully we have a few more years to get that moisture profile back."
This year also brought improved trade with Japan and Korea.
McClymont said, "We're always going to have challenges, but it's great to know our product's back where it needs to be."
But as the Nebraska Cattlemen celebrate their 125th anniversary, the biggest challenges may be at home. There's confusion over organic meat, which studies show isn't any healthier.
Gary Sides, a cattle nutrition expert with Zoetis said, "That's our problem. We've done a terrible job communicating how we raise beef and the nutrition value of beef and that's something we ought to turn around."
Research shows quality, price, and value are the top factors at the supermarket. But more consumers question environmental practices.
Cattlemen say they've got to tell their side of the story.
McClymont said, "First and foremost is what consumers think and how we share our story, and what we do every day. We can't put that to grass, we have to be active in that until people understand the value of the beef industry and producers."
Research shows the beef industry has reduced emissions to the soil, water, and land.
At the same time, they have improved working conditions with 32 percent fewer accidents on the job. Learn more at beefresearch.org.