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MO cattle shortage could mean record beef prices
Missouri Ag Connection - 02/29/2024

A recent American Farm Bureau Federation report predicts record-high beef prices due to a nationwide decline in cattle inventory, reaching its lowest point since 1948. This decrease is attributed to droughts impacting major beef-producing states, including Missouri, where limited access to grazing land forced farmers to reduce herd sizes.

Missouri farmer Jacob Newton expects consumers to see rising beef prices, currently averaging $5 per pound, due to the supply-demand imbalance. While he is increasing his operation's processing capacity from 37 to 42 cattle this year, local processing remains a challenge for New York farmers like Newton.

For processors like Owasco Meat Company in New York, rising cattle prices necessitate increased beef prices for consumers. Co-owner Callan Space anticipates prices will continue to climb in the next 6-12 months, driven by a combination of factors beyond just cattle costs.

"Wages are going up, food is not cheap to produce, and good food isn't cheap," Space said.

New York state is taking steps to address the processing bottleneck by offering grant funding to expand facilities. While the overall beef market faces rising costs, Space believes local producers like those in Missouri can leverage sustainability advantages.

"I think the biggest benefit to local meat is the freshness and lower carbon footprint," Space said, highlighting the growing consumer demand for environmentally conscious food choices. "What better way to reduce carbon than to have animals that were on the farm 10 miles from here?"

This situation highlights the complex interplay between national trends, local challenges, and evolving consumer preferences in the face of a changing food landscape.

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