"It's been tough. Feed costs are higher, and it just takes more out of our pocket," says Robert Bullis, Cattle Producer.
Now, he's seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. Japan, once the biggest importer of U.S. beef, lifted a decade old ban put in place after a mad-cow disease scare in the U.S.
"In 2003, Japan only took cattle from the United States if it was 20 months or younger," says Jackie Moore, Joplin Stockyards Owner.
The new regulations now allows ranchers to export cattle 30 months or younger.
"That's probably going to double the amount of exports that we can have sent to Japan," says Moore.
Allowing Bullis to keep more money is his pocket. Cattle prices are expected to spike due to demand.
"You're looking at $75 maybe $100 a head or more," says Bullis.
Ranchers say the success of the new regulation depends on something they can't control.
"If we have normal moisture this year, we'll have one of the most profitable years that we've ever had in history in the cattle business," says Moore.
Japan expects to beginning receiving shipments in mid-February.