Complex macroeconomics and inflationary pressures are at play here, but also simple supply and demand. A smaller number of cattle in 2012 will drive up beef prices for the second year in a row. The Agriculture Department reported a tally of 91 million head of cattle in the U.S. on Jan. 1, the lowest level since 1952. That has lead to forecasts of a 4% to 5% rise in beef prices this year — on the heels of a staggering 10% increase in 2011. Turkey burgers, anyone?