We all knew this would happen, didn’t we? Not only has Texas had a prolonged drought with devastating wildfires on top of that, but also we’ve had a spike in fuel and grain prices that are having a real effect on cattle ranchers everywhere, not just in Texas. We’re seeing that effect every time we go to the grocery store as the price of beef goes up and up.
Surprisingly enough, however, the price of beef at the retail level has surpassed the high price of pork, according to a CNN Money piece, “Beef Prices Soar” by Parija Kavilanz.
In February, the average retail price per pound for beef was $3.87, up 12.4% versus a year ago, according to market research firm FreshLook Data.
The average retail price for a pound of chicken was up 3.9% in February versus a year ago, turkey was up 5.4%, veal up 6.7% and pork up 10%.
According to Texas A&M’s Department of Animal Science, Texas cattle herds typically number 14 million, making it the top-producing state in the nation. (Although I read somewhere recently that Kansas has more cattle than Texas. If anyone knows for sure, please advise.) I’m wondering if that 14 million number for Texas is down since the drought began. I can’t seem to find current numbers for the state, but I’ll keep looking.
No doubt, the prolonged drought is affecting feed costs for all livestock, but I have a feeling that our biggest problem is that we’re subsidizing farmers in Iowa and elsewhere with our tax money to produce corn to make ethanol to add to gasoline. In effect, we’re putting corn in our cars and trucks instead of into the animals we need for food! And no matter how you cut it, ethanol is NOT helping drive down the cost of a gallon of gas. Even if we processed all of the corn we grow in this country into ethanol, it would only amount to 3% of our fuel needs. What are we doing, and above all, why?
The fact that we’re putting “corn in our cars” is driving up food prices across the board and around the world. I don’t know if you’ve been paying attention lately, but most of the unrest in the Arab countries has been over soaring food prices.
My apologies to all the nice corn farmers in Iowa and to the soybean farmers who are growing crops for biodiesel, but this is just another one of those things that “seemed like a good idea at the time.” Let’s produce more corn and soybeans for our livestock (and ourselves) and less to add to our gasoline. It’s time for this craziness to stop.