Monday, 29 October 2007 19:00
With a record drought wiping out Southeast hay, cattle
farmers are being forced to sell large numbers of current and future breeding
stock this fall.
The Southeast produces 30 percent of the calves sent to U.S.
feedlots and, according to experts, it could take three years or more for the
nation’s beef supply to recover. Market reports show higher numbers of cattle
are going to market this fall, including healthy young cows. Spokesmen from
within the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association say the industry will feel the
effects of the sell-off until breeding animals are replaced. Supply is a big
factor in the price of beef. Experts aren’t sure how much the drought will
affect beef costs that are already on the rise due to higher demand and rising
grain prices. From January to September, the Bureau of Labor Statistics
estimates ground beef prices have risen 6 percent. With hay production down as
much as 80 percent in some places, due to a late winter freeze and the
continued drought, things could get difficult for both farmers and consumers.