The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) says that retail beef prices climbed 4% in February. That probably won’t surprise many consumers who have doubtless noticed the increase in beef prices at their local supermarket.
However, the government also says that beef prices will likely to continue to surge during the summer. A declining U.S. cattle herd is driving prices higher. Cattle ranchers have been hard hit by a lingering drought across Midwestern states and an especially harsh winter. That has meant fewer cattle available to slaughter for meat, reducing the supply to supermarkets and pushing beef prices higher, the Rapid City Journal notes.
In February, the cattle slaughter rate dropped to a level not seen since April 2006. More than 43,000 cattle reportedly died in October during an early snow storm in South Dakota.
Earlier this month, cattle futures hit $1.46825 a pound on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, a record high. That marked a jump of 25% compared to price lows during May 2013. Wholesale beef prices have climbed 20% this year, hitting a record of $2.44 per pound on Mar. 18. The government expects retail beef prices to rise between 3% and 4% this year, Bloomberg notes.
Not only are beef prices rising, but pork prices are beginning to tick up, too. The USDA predicts that pork prices will climb between 2% and 3% this year.
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