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Beef is getting more expensive, but farmers are squeezed out of profits

Published: Dec. 2, 2021 at 3:57 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Beef prices are up about 20% on average compared to last year, but North Shore cattle farmers say they are seeing very little increase in revenue.

Cattlemen say they are being squeezed in several directions with no end in sight.

“We’re the low man on the totem pole,” cattleman Nickie Smith says.

The cost of beef is up 20-40% in some cases, but Smith says it’s still tough to make ends meet.

Smith raises 700 Brangus breed cattle on 1,200 acres and says fertilizer costs are “astronomical.” Gas prices are up around 50% as well.

“I bought some ammonia last year for $240 a ton and it’s $1,000 a ton now. That’s a big difference,” Smith said.

“It’s all increased dramatically,” rancher Willie Core says. “All things that go into forage products.”

Core raises cattle and owns a feed store in Folsom. He says he sees the problem up close and from both ends.

Processors are only paying so much for beef products, meaning the bottom line isn’t moving in the right direction for cattle ranchers.

Smith says in spite of cost increases, he’s still selling his steer for around $1.53 per pound, just like last year.

Not only are cattlemen being squeezed by increase feed and fuel prices, but available cattle grazing land is also being taken away.

Solar farm companies are buying up prime acreage, giving Smith less land for his cattle to graze.

“It decreases my income, decreases the meat at the market,” Smith says.

“I don’t see any reason to believe things are going to ease up any time soon,” Core said.

Eventually, ranchers say consumers will need to look to alternatives as the price of beef continues to rise.

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