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The Wild, Wild West: Five Ways to Make Ranching Profitable in the Future

Change Is Coming
 
With the invention of the electric fence in the 1930s, the western US became a haven for ranching. But the Bureau of Labor Statistics has grim news for ranchers: the industry is expected to have lackluster growth for the foreseeable future. As ranches get merged into conglomerate ranches, the landscape of this industry is literally changing before our eyes.
 
When given lemons, it"s time to make lemonade. Here are five ways to embrace change and what the future of ranching has in store:
 
  1. MEGA-RANCHING. If you can"t beat 'em, join 'em. Unite several ranches to create a mega-ranch and be more likely to make end"s meet. Or create a collective cooperative to process and sell your product.
  2. ORGANIC RANCHING. Organic is a big buzz word in every business and this will always be an in-demand niche. Health-conscious consumers are becoming aware of the effects of chemicals, pesticides, and hormones on their bodies. Community-owned cooperatives allow customers to purchase directly from the cooperative.
  3. DUDE RANCHING. While liability is a concern, and extra overhead, dude ranching can be made profitable with a little creativity. Instead of offering meals, the key can be finding a way to open up your land to the public with a minimal investment. Some ranches have successfully made the transition simply by offering hiking and hunting on their land.
  4. ALTERNATIVE ANIMAL RANCHING. What do you have that others don"t have? Open land for unique livestock. Instead of cattle, horses, and sheep, think emus, bison, elk, or whatever the trend is. Find out where the international demand is for your niche product.
  5. GO AQUACULTURE. Yep, even land-locked states can get into this business. With restrictions on deep-sea fishing, there"s a need for growing seafood in ponds and pens. Talk about out-of-the box ranching! For example, Idaho is the nation"s largest commercial producer of rainbow trout. The industry has grown so rapidly that the University of Idaho in Moscow, Idaho, has an Aquaculture Research Institute devoted to the cause.
 
There"s no need to sell the ranch if you can find a niche that works for you and the consumer&all you need to do is channel your inner creative genius.

By Adam Herschkowitz
Get Ranch Jobs, Contributing Editor

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