Sunday, April 1, 2012

Where's the beef?

Take a drought in the south add a dash of mad cow and ecoli scares and a speculator or two and you have a recipe for an inedible dish of beef stew. And now pink slime is added to the mix for the piece d resistance. Cattle farmers here had dumped a goodly portion of their herds last summer rather than face a total economic loss. But the drought hit them from both sides driving up the cost of feed and slashing access to much needed water. It's created a rather unusual situation in supply and demand economics. As prices rise beyond a certain point for any product the demand falls usually causing the price for the product to follow. However when the costs to produce the product start to exceed any profits a farmer is faced with either dumping the product at a loss or finding a new career. Many here have done just that over the last ten years calling it quits. We are reduced to either very small specialty markets or massive factory farms. There seems to be no in between. I'm hearing that farmers are adding stock but it will take a year or two to see any change in the current situation and that will also depend on the weather. At any rate they'll have to find a new market for beef by products as they have grossed us out with their pink slime. Maybe had they chosen a more appetizing name this might not have been such a problem. Funny but in my trade the term has a totally different meaning referring to a colored bridging encapsulant used to seal asbestos.

To add insult to injury we're seeing higher fuel prices something farmers aren't happy to see as their operations depend on it. What more could be added to this perfect economic storm for our nations farmers and beef producers? I'm sure the Blog Fodder could give us his take on the subject as that is right up his alley. I can only dig out the bits and pieces of info on the subject. One thing is for certain and that's that prices are due to increase yet again this year with some estimates at between 4 and 6%.

Make mine the chicken sandwich. But then again you might have to hold the chicken if that gets too expensive.


Randal Graves said...


Demeur said...

I wouldn't put it past them Randal. Choice cuts or not of tender homosapien.

The Blog Fodder said...

Pink slime was the name given to it by the National Enquirer mindset media and the forever with us anti-meat crowd. It is actually "lean finely textured beef" of which there is about 16 lbs produced per carcass. It is perfectly safe, perfectly nutritious and represent protein that would otherwise go to waste. When mixed with regular ground beef, it makes a fine hamburger. It just may not look appetizing in the raw form. You never want to see hot dogs being made either.

The Blog Fodder said...

The beef industry undergoes a 10 year cycle in which change in supply lags change in price by about three years. This is simple biology. From the time you breed the cow until the calf is ready to eat is three years more or less. From the time you breed a cow until her calf's calf is ready to eat is about 5 years. So it takes time to respond to increased prices. About the time you get everything rolling, there is suddenly too much beef on the market ie supply has overshot the equilibrium point so then a sell off starts, which also takes time. And droughts, disease, high grain prices and economic booms or busts can and do play havoc with the cycle, extending it or shrinking it.

BBC said...

It never occurred to me that in my lifetime I would see hamburger selling for over four bucks a pound.

Oh well, I just buy cheaper cuts of meat and grind my own. You can still get a chicken sandwich for a buck, even if they go up to a buck and a half that still won't be a bad deal.

I think I have some ham in the freezer, guess I'll make some split pea soup.

Tom Harper said...

"Make mine a chicken sandwich."

Aw come on, don't be such a wuss. I'll take a big old slab of steak tartare.