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Beef prices could go up with tighter supplies

(Radio Iowa) – You could pay a little more for steak or hamburger this winter.  Iowa State University livestock economist Lee Schulz says the cattle market is rebounding from years of drought, and along with lower grain prices and better forage, the conditions are good for producers. “We’ve seen the cost of production decrease substantially and we’re looking at break-even levels and above for beef producers,” Schulz says.

He says producers will sell fewer animals to build up their herds to take advantage of the market situation. “Beef supplies are historically tight, but to build that herd they’re going to become even tighter because we have to retain more of those heifers,” Schulz explains.

Keeping those animals out of the marketplace means beef will cost more. “There is quite a bit of uncertainty, but I think we do know that prices are likely to increase in the rather short to medium term,” Schulz says.  Schulz adds, while consumers may see higher prices, retailers are likely to cushion some of the impact.