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Beef prices up this summer on cattle shortage

Beef cattle feed on the Wulf farm in this June 27, 2008 file photo.
Credit: Reuters/Diane Bartz
Beef cattle feed on the Wulf farm in this June 27, 2008 file photo. Credit: Reuters/Diane Bartz

MADISON, Wis. (WXPR) -- You've probably noticed the cut of beef you prefer is costing more and it isn't likely to get any cheaper any time soon.

Casey Langan, a spokesperson for the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation says they've seen this trend coming for a couple of years. The rising prices are directly related to Mother Nature. "It's largely related to droughts happening around the country especially in the west and south. We had an extreme drought to the point where cattlemen and farmers were selling entire herds of cattle. And as a result, our nation's cattle herd has it's smallest size in 60 years."

Cattle ranchers had to send the animals to market as the cost of feed rose due to the drought. Langan says with the loss of cows, it takes time to restore the herds "It's kind of a lost generation of calves from three years ago that aren't going to market today and that's why we have a tighter supply. And with continued droughts in some parts of the country it takes some convincing for farmers to grow their herds."

Langan says a twist on the situation is with prices rising, there is very little incentive to keep the current stock around as farmers can get good prices for the existing stock. He says emerging economies like India and Brazil are also now importing beef. He says American-raised beef is being sent to those nations because of rising demand while we likely will also start to import beef from other nations.

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