GREAT FALLS- According to Congressman Greg Gianforte, America is seeing beef prices the highest they’ve been since 2015, while cattle prices have fallen.
In addition to this, a major fire at a processing plant in Kansas this past August has had major impacts on ranchers across the country.
“Montana ranchers produce the world’s best beef, but current conditions in the market are hurting them. They deserve an explanation and to be treated fairly,” says Gianforte.
“Really did affect every rancher, every producer across the nation,” further explains Colter Brown from the Northern Broadcasting System.
In the cattle industry, everything is stream lined; which means when one thing goes wrong, everything else is affected.
The processing facility fire in Kansas took out about 6% of the beef processing in the nation, which is roughly 25,000- 35,000 cattle a week.
“We saw the live cattle prices down immediately the day after and pretty quickly it was dropping the calf and yearling prices we sell here in Montana,” says Brown.
However, it isn't just the ranchers who are impacted by an event like this.
Consumers could start to see the effects of it as well.
“The retail price of beef didn't fall, it actually increased because retailers were worried about the supply of beef after the fire happened; if they'd be able to source their needs, so that price went up,” explains Brown.
On the other end of the spectrum, packaging companies saw an increase in demand for processing.
“A higher supply is going to put pressure on the prices. Definitely some challenges right now in this cattle industry, ranchers are making less money, some of them probably approaching break-even levels; but we're not seeing wide losses in the industry right now, but definitely some challenges for these producers,” explains Brown.
As of right now, the cattle industry will continue to feel pressure over the next couple years.
However, several trade agreements are in the works with other countries that could help the overall cattle situation.
A USDA cattle study is underway and should be done by the end of this year.
One of the best ways you can join the conversation is by attending AG meetings around your area.