HOPE HULL, Ala (WIAT) – If you’ve been to the meat counter at your local supermarket lately, the sticker shock from beef prices may have caught you off guard.
While prices are soaring for consumers, cattle farmers say added costs aren’t coming from them.
Farmers say there are plenty of cows to meet demand, but it’s what happens after the cattle are sold that’s driving up prices.
“We’re not receiving the money that we’re going to need to if things continue to change,” said cattle farmer Chuck Madaris.
Madaris has been raising cattle on his Lowndes county farm for more than 40 years.
He said the price he sells his cattle for hasn’t increased in two years, but his costs to raise them have.
“Our costs have risen 60% to 70%,” Madaris said.
According to Erin Beasley, Executive Director of the Alabama Cattlemen’s Association, the supply problem begins at the meat processing or packing level.
“Within the packing industry, there are labor shortages, there are challenges there. There has been for months now. There are transportation issues, all these things. So, like everything right now, you couple that with inflation,” Beasley said.
With beef processing and distribution hitting a bottleneck nationwide, farmers like Madaris are left with expensive cattle and no sign of rising profits.
“If we continue to stay where we are it will present problems,” Madaris said.
Medaris also believes the biggest help for cattle farmers in the future is to not be so reliant on just a handful of mega meat processing centers that dictate the cost of cattle.
According to some industry experts, the price of beef you pay for at the store will not likely begin to go down until sometime in 2022.