Friday, April 25, 2014

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Meat prices set to soar as cattle farmers battle drought

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TWC News: Meat prices set to soar as cattle farmers battle drought
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Texas farmers and ranchers are still watching the skies, hoping for the arrival of spring rains.

The ongoing drought has been tough on the state’s agriculture industry, especially Texas cattle ranchers.

The number of cattle in Texas fell below 4,000,000 this month—the lowest in about fifty years—but Central Texas producers were optimistic at this year’s Blackland Agriculture Conference.

The conference serves as an annual gathering for industry insiders to check out the latest in machinery and to hear from experts on the current state of farming.

Beef experts said that high prices are encouraging producers to expand their herds, but are also making it more expensive to do so.

They said that if the drought ends, it would take five to ten years before Texas beef production could return to previous levels.

In the meantime, consumers can expect higher prices for beef products at the grocery store.

“At some point you're going to see beef prices get high enough at the supermarket that I'm afraid the American consumer is going to say 'I can't do that'," Stan Bevers, economist for Texas Agrilife Extension, said.

Ground beef is going for a little less than $4 dollars per pound, but Bevers predicts it will top $5 per pound in the next six months, even if the drought situation improves nationally.

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