Farm Horizons, June 2014

Beef, pork prices are among highest seen in decades

By Ryan Gueningsman

A perfect storm of tough weather, disease, and other factors has caused a significant jump in meat prices across the country, but local retailers say the price jump isn’t keeping consumers from still purchasing those steaks and chops for summer grilling.

Laurence “Bud” Rieder of Rieder Meat Market in Delano said that, similar to gas prices, people may grumble about it, but they are still going to purchase their meats.

“You see people going more hamburger, but that’s not cheap either,” Rieder said.

Coborn’s Store Manager Joe Tipka said beef prices have gone up due to the cold winter and early snowstorms from last fall.

Coborn’s Meat Manager Kevin Nielsen said the loss of cattle in the western Dakotas has also contributed to the reduction in beef supply.

“It takes down the number of herds,” he said. “Plus, with the high price of feed, people have cut back from raising the larger herds. Smaller ones have maybe gotten out of it.”

Tipka said prices consumers are paying are higher than in recent years, but said retailers are still able to show their customers fair pricing.

“We still are showing some pretty good retail values in some different areas through our ad value stuff,” Tipka said. “For the most part, prices have went up higher than I guess I can remember.”

Nielsen said he believes prices have probably leveled off for the time being, but said that depends on what happens with the corn crop.

“There is a lot of corn not in the fields yet due to weather,” he said.

Getting into the summer months, local community fairs and festivals are also running into an issue with having tasty burgers or chops at the celebrations. Tipka, who serves as the vice president of the Delano Fourth of July Celebration Committee, said there are going to be some slight increases for pricing at Central Park this July.

“Pork prices, at this point, are going through the roof,” Tipka said, eluding to the pork chop stand at Delano’s celebration.

Nielsen said this is due to a virus that has killed millions of piglets. Porcine endemic diarrhea virus (PEDv) has killed about 7 million pigs in 30 states since last April, losses that likely will reduce slaughter this summer by more than 10 percent. Such reductions would push US hog prices up by 15 to 25 percent and force consumer pork prices up, according to economist Steve Meyer, president of Paragon Economics in Adel, Iowa. Additionally, reduced hog numbers mean less feed, less medicine, fewer veterinary services and shortened hours at packing and processing plants, Hill said.

“It’s all supply and demand,” Tipka said, noting more people had been going to turkey and poultry. However, as the demand for these increase, the costs can be expected to, as well.

“Chicken and turkey haven’t been affected a lot, but we may see increases depending again on supply and demand,” he said.

“It’s kind of a vicious circle - Tipka said. “They need to get the cattle herd up and control disease in the pork, and hopefully be able to stabilize the prices and maybe they will eventually go in the other direction, but that’s not going to happen any time soon.”

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