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American beef industry hits record low, according to USDA

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The United States is facing a shortage of cows, leading to higher beef prices.

The nationwide cattle inventory has dropped to its lowest level since the 1970s due to persistent drought, high input costs, and inflation.

Ranchers like Hampton Cornelius are feeling the impact, with some reducing herd sizes.

Cornelius said, “We love being able to see something, an animal we take care of every day thrive and have a great life and still be beneficial to the population.”

“Demand is there and the costs, you know the price is there, but the expenditures and the costs associated where that production have escalated to the point where it’s kind of balanced out where we have gotten an increase in price,” he continued.

Drought has affected major beef-producing states like Texas, and feed prices have increased nationwide.

American Farm Bureau Federation economist, Bernt Nelson, said, “Nelson says farmers have had to stay resilient through persistent drought the last few years.”

“We saw drier and warmer temperatures in some of the most highly concentrated areas of livestock production in the United States,” he continued.

“Combined with high input costs, inflation putting upward pressures on both consumers and farmers, we saw a lot of farmers faced with the decision do we want to keep producing or do we want to try and rescue out herd size or do we want to try and get out of the business all together,” added Nelson.

Cody Maxwell, an Agricultural Resources County Agent said, “We’ve seen hay prices in the state of Texas go from what we would call normal for a high-quality bail of hay of about 55 dollars a bail… we have seen that increase from 120 to 125 dollars a bail.”

Despite challenges, demand for beef remains strong post-COVID-19, with prices averaging $5 per pound last year.

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