For the nations livestock producers profits were minimal  in 2011. That according to a USDA analyst who says there was one exception.

"The export market really has been a bright spot."

Agriculture Department Chief Economists, Joe Glauber, says exports helped prop up prices over the year. Glauber says they improved in 2011 following a huge reduction eight years ago that came with the discovery of BSE, or whats commonly known as mad cow disease, in cattle in the U.S..  Now, finally, in 2011 Glauber says exports have returned to pre-BSE levels.

"It's been a long climb back and I think particularly with some of the more recent trade developments with some of the Asian markets. Hopefully that will increase over time. Pork has been very strong and broilers we're projecting a bit of an increase for. So I think these are all important segments of those sectors."

Glauber says 11 percent of beef production in the U.S.  is exported with other segments like broilers and pork up around 20 percent.