Beef prices to be high for decade

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Americans should expect higher beef prices for the next six to 10 years, Alabama Cattlemen’s Association president Woody Clark said Tuesday.

Clark, who is a local resident, spoke to the Rotary Club on Tuesday.

Higher beef prices are a product of basic supply and demand, Clark said.

“We are selling all we can produce as fast as we can,” he said.

America exports $5.5 billion in beef products, he said, adding that there is increasing demand in Asian markets. For instance, Clark said, it is estimated that in the next five years, 60 million people in South Korea will move from the lower class to the middle class.

“They are tired of eating rice and beans,” he said. “That market is exploding.”

In Japan, there is a 38 percent tariff on imported American beef.

“They say it’s gone from the stores in 10 minutes,” Clark said. “We produce a great product.”

The increasing demand, coupled with drought conditions, are driving prices up, he said.

“The cow herds are the smallest they’ve been since 1952,” he said. “In the droughts in the Midwest, they had to sell off the herds.”

The average American cattle farmer has 30 to 35 head of cattle, he said.

The good news, he said, is that the corn crop is good, making for better feed prices.

Meanwhile, he said, demand is so high that Americans are importing much of the ground beef consumed here, primarily from Argentina and Mexico.