Food, Corn, Beef – 2013 – Can We Afford It?

corn.droughtFar from a drought buster this winter we have had a little more rain than in the last 4 winters. Our window of opportunity is small, so we are moving quickly to over seed our drought stressed pastures with annual rye that will germinate in cooler soil and with luck be 12-14 inches tall before the dry hot summer weather hits us in early to mid June.

Click pictures to Zoom In
Son-n-law-1.0 and I have spent a good part of this winter reworking an old 1946 model FBB, John Deere wheat drill. Bringing it back to life and refitted to drill in the smaller rye seed at a wider row spacing than normally used when planting a wheat crop in hopes of producing enough supplemental grass for our Tiny Cow Herd to prevent us from having to buy hay before next fall or winter.

1946 Model John Deere wheat drill

1946 Model John Deere wheat drill

A 1,000 to 1,200 pound bail of hay that was selling for $35.00 in 2008 if you can find it, is now selling for more than $100.00 a bail. Being forced to buy more hay and supplemental protein feeder cubes makes feeding a slaughter calf for 24 to 30 months an expensive investment. Two cows, one bull and two weaning size calf’s will consume a 1,000 pounds of hay and 80 pounds of supplemental protein cubes every 20 days. ….Smiling … and that is not counting the hay our Guard Donkey eats.longhorn-herd-2-4-13

Some mail order prices I found listed for USDA Prime beef are:
Prime Dry-Aged Bone-In Filet Mignon $88.00 to $130.00 a pound
Prime Dry-Aged Long-Bone Rib Steak $101.00 a pound
Prime Dry-Aged Bone-In Hip Sirloin Steak $19.50 to $23.00 a pound
And that boys and girls is why a serving of prime steak at a restaurant is 4 to 6 ounces. About 1/4 of a pound of prime beef, and a meal for 2 will set you back $125.00 to $150.00 dollars maybe more.

Source Cow shortage forcing industry to make rough cuts
Years of drought reshaping the U.S. beef industry with feedlots, major meatpacking plant closing because there are too few cattle left in the United States to support them. In major cattle producing states feed lots have been dismantled, and others are sitting empty. Operators say they don’t expect a recovery anytime soon, with high feed prices, much of the country still in drought. It takes a long time to rebuild cow herds.

Closures are the latest ripple in the drought caused shock wave sent through rural communities. Most cattle in the U.S. are sent to feedlots for final fattening before slaughter. The dwindling number of animals is hurting meat packers, with their much larger workforces. Consumers will feel the impact in grocery and restaurant bills as smaller meat supply drives beef prices higher. Cattle numbers have been falling as the price of corn has skyrocketed. Droughts have accelerated the process.

Fewer livestock than normal remain on farms. Ironically, if it rains this spring and summer, even fewer animals will go into feedlots because ranchers will hold back cows to breed and rebuild their herds. When corn prices spiked at $8 a bushel 70 big feed yards went up for sale in the High Plains feeding area that includes Texas, Kansas, Colorado and Nebraska. Today 15 feed yards are for sale, 15 more set empty, five are being dismantled.

Cargill Beef, one of the nation’s biggest meat packers, closed it’s slaughterhouse in Plainview, Texas, laying off 2,000 workers. The annual economic loss to the region is estimated at $1.1 billion dollars.

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13 responses to “Food, Corn, Beef – 2013 – Can We Afford It?

  1. I respect your research, but here in the Dakotas we have lots and lots of feedlots with many cattle. We also don’t see the same prices you do perhaps we are currently closer to the hoof so to speak. I would refer people to the Farmers Union website where you can find the “farmer’s share” of the cost of food. That is an interesting look.


    • Re lucindalines – the outrageous prices I listed are for the best of the best cuts of beef. However, they are real and not made-up. From Nebraska south into Texas and into our western cattle producing states this long last extreme drought has strained grass lands to their limit. Land that a few years past could feed 1 cow per 3 to 5 acres are now so dry and stressed that it takes, many places 20-25 or more acres for 1 cow. Ponds and lakes have gone dry. Feed grains mostly corn has doubled or tripled in price, grass lands are grazed out and hay if you can find it often cost 4 times what it did 3 or 4 years past. My last 5 bails of hay were $110.00 a bail and were trucked in from Minnesota. Even if we get that drought busting rain it will take 2 or 3 years for farmers and ranchers to rebuild their cow herds.
      It’s nice to know that you have not suffered as badly as the producers in the south and southwest state.
      Grinning – wipe the BBQ off your chin and Happy spring/summer gardening


      • I really wish you some rain this summer. We see hay going south everyday and not just one truck usually three or more at a time. I guess we are somewhat lucky to have a large country so that even if prices are bad, there is something someplace to use.


  2. Four to 6 oz. of beef per serving is probably a healthy (though not “hardy”) serving for a meal. Good way to enforce better eating habits. Fill the in part of the plate, which used to hold the other 8 to 10 oz. of beef, with extra vegetables (I’m still passing on the sauteed bugs).


    • Re: hermitsdoor – Of course the beef prices I listed are for what is called the best of the best beef cuts and aging processed.
      However, I saw USDA Select T-bones, which is not considered a really high quality cut of beef selling for $19.99 a pound at my local supermarket. Even if this 4/5 year drought ends today it will still take 24 to 36 months for beef producers to rebuild their herds.
      Stink buds, are not a good sign this early in our gardening season.
      Happy bug free gardening


      • For the past two years, we have pulled ticks off our dogs in February. The stink bugs are inside, but get active whenever it warms up. The burn nicely in our woodstove!


        • Ticks do not do well in our hot dry climate, not to say we don’t have them, they are seldom a big problem. Fleas are a bigger problem being delivered free of charge mostly by cotton tail rabbits. Garden insects that cause us a lot of garden problems are few, but, the common squash bug(sometimes called stink bugs) and in hot dry weather conditions grasshoppers can be devastating on a garden. They arrive in the thousands and no amount of spraying or bug eating ducks and chickens can save your landscape plants or vegetable garden. Grin .. maybe I need to add roasted/toasted grasshoppers to my snack menu.
          Happy bug free gardening


  3. Too bad city folk don’t have to deal with the reality of a water shortage, well at least not until it hits their wallets. Only then will people start to pay attention and maybe, just maybe start to come up with a solution.


    • Re: Oldschool – The city and all of our small towns in this area in one way or another depend on getting their water from 3 local lakes. Thes lakes are nearing the 40 percent capacity level that will cause automatic mandatory rations it be implemented.
      Not a good sign of things to come this summer.
      Happy gardening.


      • wow that is low.

        Are you “allowed” to build a reservoir? One of the things that I did last year was added 2 water storage bins for gray water. I changed what kind of soap I used to make sure that I would do no damage to my plants and friendly bugs. Over the summer, I had pails in the bathroom & kitchen to move the grey water outside. Its extra work but it saved my garden.

        I realize you have a lot more land then me so that kind of thing would not be helpful but a grey water recovery system might help.


  4. Interesting. We’ve had more than a foot of extra snow this year and now it’s raining on the snow. My backyard is a pool that’s trying to drain into the basement. Need some water? 🙂


    • Grinning … Well there is such a thing as to much rain. I just have never had that problem in 65+ years of living in West Texas and Southwest Oklahoma. Our so called normal rainfall is about 28-30 inches a year and for the past 4 going on 5 years rainfall has been much closer to 16 to 18 inches.
      Happy Damp not Wet, spring gardening


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