American Farmers Are Selling Off Cattle Herds in Droves, Beef Prices Expected to Surge

by Jonathan Howard

Don’t expect good news on beef prices anytime soon. Due to rising costs as well as drought across America, farmers are selling off cattle. Not just a few and not just their meat stock, either. This is a worrying trend that could lead to prices surging in the coming months and even the next year. Prices at the store have already risen in the last year, and now consumers should brace for more.

The agricultural economy is really delicate. There are so many moving parts and for farmers, each dollar spent and earned is taken into account. Cattle producers in the United States are starting to feel the pinch from drought all over the country as well as issues securing feed and grazing land.

Many farmers rely on the hay that is cut each summer to keep their stock fed and healthy. Each cut is as important as the last. When you take a look at the U.S. Drought Monitor map – it’s a shocking revelation. More than half of the country is experiencing some level of drought at this time.

At the D3 level of drought is when producers start to sell their cattle. It isn’t just hay, but water supplies that will be drying up soon as well if those conditions persist.

What is worrying those in the industry is that farmers are also selling breeding stock. Female cows are usually kept for breeding purposes. However, there is a 3% increase in how many females are being sent to feedlots and not breedlots. Fewer females to breed mean fewer babies are being made. That will directly lead to fewer cattle in feedlots this time next year.

Already, ground beef prices have risen almost 10% when you compare June 2022 to June 2021.

National Cattleman’s Beef Association Says Beef Prices Not on Farmers

When it comes to rising prices at the store, consumers often find someone to blame. Collin Woodall, CEO of the National Cattleman’s Beef Association wants to make one thing clear. This isn’t on the farmers.

“We do expect the prices to continue upwards, but everybody has to remember that it’s not cattle producers setting that price,” the CEO said.

“It’s all about costs. When you look at those who make a decision to send their cattle to market to either thin down their herd or completely eliminate their herd, it is always going to be attributed to the increase of their input costs. And that is everything from the cost of feed, cost of hay and cost of diesel for tractors, diesel for the truck, fertilizer costs. And there’s so many things that go into producing cattle that the producers just don’t have any control over.”

So, prepare for the coming price increase. Or, get with a local cattle farmer and try to buy directly from the producer themselves. It’s never a bad time to split the cost on a side of beef with friends or family.