Drought may hike retail beef prices

by Staff
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TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. – The continuing drought in the upper Midwest and other parts of the US is increasing the risk to livestock and crops, according to a report on WLFI.com. Indiana crops are in the worst condition since 1988, said Ron Lemenager, a cattleman and Purdue Univ.’s Beef Extension Specialist. This means bad news for livestock, and in the end, it could mean bad news for consumers.

Lemenager is worried the drought will negatively impact this year's crops, which help feed his cattle in the event other feed such as grass and hay can't make it through extended dry conditions. Less grain will result in the price of feed going up.

Short term, cattle owners can send cattle to the slaughterhouse giving a temporary increase to the beef supply so prices at the grocery would hold steady or even fall, he said. But if cows are sent to slaughter, there will be less calves in the next two years and supplies will be short and beef prices will likely increase, Lemenager added.

Extended heat can also affect the breeding season because cows can’t conceive in the heat, another source said. Equally troubling, other protein groups including poultry and swine also depend on corn and soybeans as feed.

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