Dwindling supply, increasing demand driving Texas beef prices up


ABILENE, Texas - Beef prices are up nearly 10 percent from one year ago, thanks to an increased demand and a smaller herd.

Around town, a pound of lean ground beef will cost around $4.88.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, that's up 8.2 percent from March 2013.

Rex Bland with the Cal-Tex Feed yard in Trent outlined some reasons for the recent price jump.

One is a higher demand, including overseas, in countries like China and Japan.

"You take exports out of our mix here in the United States, that just has less of it for us to eat here," Bland said.

And the supply has been thinned out.

"Right now people don't have grass. They don't have water so everybody's cut back," Bland said.

The Texas drought has hit ranchers hard, forcing many to sell off their heads of cattle to save resources and money, but we aren't the only ones.

"They had droughts in South Dakota, Montana in the last two or three years, and up in the Midwest, and California is in one now," Bland said.

It also has to do with land.

"We've taken a lot of land out of production," Bland said. "We've got windmills and hunting rangers that don't want cattle on it."

New ranchers are often hard to come by, too. When many Big Country ranchers retire, there won't be any younger ranchers to take their place.

In an effort to rebuild the herd, some ranchers are holding back heifers for breeding.

While this will help in the long run, immediately, that just means more cows will be taken from the food supply.

This means the price of beef will likely stay high for the next few years.