John, subsidies are a bad deal all around, but sometimes they are necessary. The Canadian beef industry has been the least subsidized business in the ag sector for many years. There is some assistance there now over bse, but this is an extreme instance. I haven't got dollar one from it, I have been making other arrangements like selling beef privately.
Too many come into the cow biz with big dreams of easy money for working a few days a year. There are some who make a bit of money from cows on the side, but they have regular income from a day job. They usually are the loudest to complain also.
My original post wasn't a drive by as suggested by John S. Rather the quickest way to benefit from having cows(in the US). If that secnario doesn't work for you, be prepared to invest a lot of money and get no return for 2 years. Then the return might not be enough to generate a profit. With hard work and some luck, you can turn a profit in year 3 or 4 but maybe not enough to live on.
Hogs might be a quicker way to generate positive income, but you would have to invest more money and be in a contract situation. There isn't much chance to start small and expand as hogs are a more intensive type operation.
Novelty animals like Buffalo and Alpacas only make money for the first few on the pyramid, they have little market after the breeding market is saturated.
Jason Trowbridge Southern Angus Farms Alberta Canada