"This appears to be a long-term spike because we've seen a reduction in the mother cow herd in the United States, and with that there's no calves for next year so we look to see this to go on for a long time," said Jack Lavers, President, Kern County Cattleman's Association.More interesting perhaps, U.S. ranchers are finding it as or even more profitable to export beef to other countries. That gives us another problem with demand for beef locally. "We're actually exporting our own meat to countries like South Korea, Mexico and to Russia. So with all that going on we're playing a little game here trying to make sure the American consumer is getting all the meat they want and it's driving up the costs," added Lavers. Beef Industry Officials compare this with a two to three years cycle, which means any relief for customers is seen at the market would be a couple of years out.
All this means that it's the weather which holds the upper hand for now. Parts of Texas and Oklahoma are now on their third year of this drought; Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska are also seeing extreme conditions ongoing which started last summer.
While some are weaning their calves early in order to save their pastures and cut supplement requirements, this just worsens the problem of beef supply. All of this brings costs to a new higher level.
Richard Vasquez, Meat Department Manager at Wood-dale Meat Market, layed it out recently:"Ground beef is at about $2.99 and that's pretty much stayed. It's your higher end steaks that we've seen the high jump in, about $2.00 a pound. One is supply and demand, and the second is the drought in the midwest has a lot to do with it. The supply of cattle, the grain, the corn has a lot to do with it. Everything I'm seeing, at least a 10 percent increase in all proteins." For the uninformed, this means there is no end in sight for rising meat prices. My own suggestion, as usual, is to Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food. As you can access wholesale beef online by networking with your local farmer, you can still take advantage of wholesale meat prices by buying in bulk. And that is a solution which will bring you even cheaper meat, regardless of the economics farmer and markets face. - - - - And here's some related blog posts which cover this discussion of getting wholesale meat over the internet: