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Beef prices set to soar amid cattle shortage

The United States is facing a notable decrease in beef production due to a significant drop in cattle inventory, potentially leading to record-high beef prices for consumers. A report from the American Farm Bureau Federation highlights this trend, exacerbated by a severe drought affecting major beef-producing states like Texas, Oklahoma, and Missouri. These conditions have diminished grazing options for cattle and forced farmers to reduce their herds, pushing beef inventory to its lowest point since 1948.

Farmers like Jacob Newton of Hillside Farms in Truxton are feeling the pinch, with reduced forage availability compelling a decrease in cattle numbers. Despite the dwindling supply, consumer demand for beef remains steady, suggesting a sharp increase in prices, which are already averaging about $5.00 per pound at grocery stores. In response, some, including the Newtons, are slightly increasing their cattle processing numbers to help fill the void.

However, challenges such as finding a USDA-certified processor in beef-limited states like New York complicate the situation further. Processors like Owasco Meat Company in upstate New York, which processes 800 cattle annually, are also feeling the pressure with rising cattle costs, leading to inevitable beef price hikes. In an effort to support local meat processing and ensure a resilient food supply chain, New York has announced $5 million in grant funding to expand facilities, a move welcomed by local businesses aiming to sustain their operations amidst these challenges.

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