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Where's the (Cheap) Beef? US Prices Soar
Cattle population at 1951 levels
By Matt Cantor, Newser User
Posted Apr 9, 2014 12:25 PM CDT
Beef prices are at a record high.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Another downside of weird weather: Beef prices have hit a record high. "All-fresh" USDA choice-grade beef had a retail value of $5.28 a pound in February; the year before, it was $4.28. A few years before that, in 2008, it was just $3.97. At about 87.7 million, the US cattle population hasn't been this small since 1951—and back then, the human population was about half what it is today, the Los Angeles Times notes. The forecast? "Beef prices should remain at near-record highs this year and into 2015," says a USDA rep. It could take about two years to restore herd sizes, Yahoo! Finance reports, per USDA economists.

It's all tied to drought, which sends feed prices upward, the Times explains. And it's a particular issue for small businesses, says a beef supplier. Blame hamburgers, he notes: Small businesses struggle to get the beef they want when slaughterhouses prioritize their larger customers—like fast food companies. "You take all the McDonald's and Burger Kings across the United States; the amount of meat needed to make those hamburgers is forcing the value of other cuts of meat to go up," he says. But even those restaurants are feeling the burn, and dollar menus could be the victim, the Times notes.

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Showing 3 of 78 comments
Apr 13, 2014 6:31 PM CDT
The price of corn has been going up due to other uses such as ethanol and more human consumption. Thus, it's more expensive to feed the cattle and therefore the farmers are charging more for it. It has nothing to due with climate as some climate nutcases might try to imply.
Apr 11, 2014 4:25 AM CDT
rancher down the road from me said he is charging higher prices for out of town sales but not local, and he hasnt seen anything related to climate to raise rates, he thinks it is a scam setup by the government, to push for green energy. I'm lucky to get my beef from him prices are a third less than what stores sell it... plus it is all natural beef, tastes better than the meat the stores sell.
Apr 11, 2014 2:40 AM CDT
Buy local