Cattle ranches and their cowboys used to be economic anchors for our nation’s growth across North America. And they remain a way of life for much of the High Plains of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. But today, even with cattle and beef supplies increasing over the past five years, the rising price of even the most inexpensive beef products — such as hamburger meat — leaves consumers searching for more economical sources of protein.
Since 2000, the price of hamburger meat has increased at a rate more than twice that of consumer inflation. And the havoc brought by recent weather calamities in the Midwestern U.S. exacerbates current business challenges and could raise prices by as much as 50 cents a pound more.
The cattle industry is also facing the challenge of diseases like Bovine Respiratory Disease (BRD), which most consumers never heard of. A combination of viral and bacterial infections that is made worse with the stress of modern production methods, BRD costs the industry almost $700 million every year. USDA estimates that BRD infects more than one out of every five beef cattle in feedlots, the intensive operations that hold cattle before being transported to the slaughterhouse.
Source: Alan Leshner, The Hill, May 2, 2019