Supermarket shoppers are seeing something strange these days. It’s a discount at the butcher shop.

Steak prices have fallen every three months, despite rising prices for chicken, pork and most other groceries. But butcher bargains should be temporary.

Severe drought has forced some ranchers to slaughter their livestock early. This will lead to a glut of beef in the short term, but it will also lead to higher prices in the future.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, drought has affected 60 percent of U.S. cattle, including the Angus herd of Brady Brackett, which grazes in the high deserts of south-central Utah.

“It’s tough because cows have to travel miles every day in 100-degree temperatures to get back to where there’s enough feed,” he says. “The last few summers we’ve had to actually bring water to the cows because the springs aren’t producing enough water to keep up.”

Simply not enough water

Blackett typically uses runoff from the snowpack in the nearby Wasatch Mountains to water the alfalfa his cows eat in winter. However, due to the impact of climate change, there has been a shortage of snow in recent years. He is forced to look too groundwater, which quickly dries up.

“If we don’t get out of this drought with some water, it’s not going to be good for the future,” Blackett said, explaining that much of cattle country is dry. “There were areas in western Kansas and eastern Colorado where weeds didn’t even grow.”

John O’Dea raises cattle and hay in southwestern Nebraska. His summer hay crop is less than half what it would normally be.

“We knew he had 200 acres of land, but we knew it wouldn’t grow, so we never planted it,” says O’Dea. “He’s had two decent rains on our ranch in the last 14 months.”

Forced to slaughter early

Ranchers were forced to slaughter some animals early because there was not enough fodder to see their animals through the winter.

“We liquidated a lot of cattle and a lot of our neighbours liquidated 20% to 60% of their herds,” says O’Dea.

As a result, more steaks hit supermarket shelves, temporarily lowering prices. But the savings for consumers can be short-lived.

In a sign of rancher despair, many of the animals slaughtered are breeding heifers and heifers, so the next generation of cows will be smaller. The USDA reported that more beef cattle were slaughtered in July than in any month since records began in 1986.

“There are very few guarantees in life. But a cow that is slaughtered this year or a heifer that is slaughtered this year is guaranteed not to give birth the next year,” says Wesley Tucker, a field specialist at the University of Missouri Extension. say. “This means that in the future, fewer cows will come off the production line and less beef will be produced.”

Ranchers also face rising costs

Ranchers have gone through this cycle before. A severe drought a decade ago caused a similar decline in herd numbers. Ultimately this leads to higher beef prices, which is an incentive for ranchers to keep at least some of their livestock. to offset rising costs for ranchers, he warned.

“I don’t think tractor prices will go down next year just because the weather has improved,” says Tucker.

In Nebraska, John O’Dea constantly checks the weather forecast for signs of improvement. So far he has never seen. “Basically, we know that this season has been a failure, so we’re figuring out what to do next season,” says O’Dea. “The first dampness of this winter must be a blizzard.”

O’Dea also worries that shoppers won’t eat as much steak, even at discounted prices, given the higher prices elsewhere in supermarkets.

“It’s definitely a struggle,” he says with a wry smile. “We pay the same bill as everyone else, but we certainly won’t get rich here.”

Follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter & Facebook.

Related article: US cattle heard is diminishing rapidly

Source: Wamu

Ads Blocker Image Powered by Code Help Pro

Ads Blocker Detected!!!

We have detected that you are using extensions to block ads. Please support us by disabling the ads blocker and whitelist the site.