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As we venture into the local supermarket and see the empty shelves, I noticed the ground beef flying out of the store. As a cattleman, I talked to the clerks about supply and prices and was told that with the next shipment the cost was going to be higher.

For independent cattle producers, the downward spiral of cattle prices started well before the pandemic. Cow/calf profit dropped from $438 per cow/calf in 2015 to only $119 per cow/calf in 2019. So far this year, live cattle prices went down from $120 per hundredweight in January to $102 at the start of March and dropped to $87 at the start of the pandemic — the lowest live cattle price since 2009.

Yet inversely, beef prices at the grocery store are rising. What’s the problem here?

Author: Darvin Bentlage