News / USA

US Drought Could Trigger Higher Beef Prices

As grazing lands dry up, cattlemen sell more livestock

Multimedia

Audio

Beef prices may be headed upward due to a severe, lingering drought in the southern United States which is putting a major financial squeeze on the region’s cattle producers.  

Across Texas cattle country, livestock auctions have been unusually busy. As grazing lands dried up, cattlemen have been selling their livestock earlier in the season and at a younger age than normal.

Worst in decades

"It's been tough," says Amarillo-area rancher Ashley Nolan. "We've sold pretty much all of our herd throughout the summer little by little waiting on the rain, and it never came. The well dried up."

In fact, just one-fifth the normal amount of rain and snow have fallen this year in the north Texas ranching communities in the Texas Panhandle.

The drought has raised the price of every type of cattle feed, including "gin trash," unwanted parts of the cotton plant produced as a by-product of the region's many cotton gins.
The drought has raised the price of every type of cattle feed, including "gin trash," unwanted parts of the cotton plant produced as a by-product of the region's many cotton gins.

Rancher Rick Kellison says it's the worst he's ever seen. "I was arrogant enough to say I'd been through some droughts before. I'm over 60. I hadn't."

The drought has forced Kellison to cut his herd nearly in half. As grazing land has dried up, hay prices have shot up to five times their normal price. That has Kellison looking for alternatives.

Even 'trash' is expensive

"Gin trash" - unwanted parts of the cotton plant produced as a by-product of the region's many cotton gins - usually provides a cheap source of feed. But the drought has devastated the region's cotton crop, too. Even gin trash costs 10 or more times as much as usual.

Kellison has spent more than a decade breeding cows to produce more meat with less feed. Now, the fruits of his labor are in jeopardy.

"When I have to liquidate a 5- to 6-year-old cow that's in her prime, I've sold my factory," he says.

'Most of these cows have names'

Kellison says some in his situation are getting out of the business. "If you just look at the numbers, and there's no emotions involved, the thing to do is sell out and punt."

Livestock auctions have been busy this year as ranchers have sold off their herds.
Livestock auctions have been busy this year as ranchers have sold off their herds.

He says it's a bad idea for a cattleman to get attached to his livestock, but, "most of these cows have names. They're what we take care of first."

So he and his family are holding on for now.

The good news for Texas ranchers is that their cattle are still getting fairly good prices at auction despite the glut on the market. That's helping many cattlemen get through the drought.

Rising beef prices

The bad news for consumers is that the rapidly shrinking beef herd means prices will likely be going up. And that herd will take years to rebuild.

However, Kellison adds, "The fear I have is, it's not over yet. And we don't know when it'll be over."

The La Niña weather pattern that contributed to this year's drought appears to be back for another year. And Texas weather officials say dryer-than-normal weather could last for a decade or more. A drought that has already cost the state's farmers and ranchers more than $5 billion is not through with them yet.

You May Like

Photogallery US Storm Falls Short of Severe Predictions, Yet Affects Millions

NYC mayor says, 'This is nothing like we feared it would be,' yet blizzard warnings, travel bans remain for several East Coast states More

Millions of Displaced Nigerians Struggle With Daily Existence

Government acknowledges over a million people displaced in 2014 due to fight against Boko Haram insurgency More

Facebook: Internal Error to Blame for Outages

Temporary outage appeared to spill over and temporarily slow or block traffic to other major Internet sites More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid