Higher Beef Prices Here to Stay

Recently released government data shows retail beef prices climbed roughly five-percent during 2013. Consumers paid an average of nearly $3.50 per pound for 100-percent ground beef. Those prices aren't expected to go down anytime soon. In fact - USDA's Economic Research Service is projecting beef prices will rise faster than almost anything else this year. Rabo AgriFinance cattle economist Don Close says prices could rise seven to eight-percent this year and roughly the same amount in 2015. Senior Analyst with CattleFax Kevin Good says higher prices will continue through 2015 or 2016. According to Good - the price hikes for ground beef could be especially steep. He believes steak retail prices could climb five to 10-percent - with ground beef possibly climbing 10 to 15-percent. The issue is the declining cattle herd. USDA Ag Economist William Hahn says cow numbers were down and the lower supply meant higher prices. Close says the drought in Texas is exacerbating the issue. Good says cattle herds are beginning to increase - but it will take time for additional supply to come to the market.

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