The cattle industry has struggled with non-competitive prices in recent years, citing an issue with the meatpacking industry.
After a nearly two-year investigation by the Department of Justice, cattle ranchers are still waiting for a verdict regarding price manipulation by the meatpacking industry.
Jeff Schafer, the president of ND Stockmen’s Association, said, “You got box choice beef well over $3.20 and last time fat cow were bid roughly $1.91 so we’re under $2 on the fat cattle bid, so that’s far from where it should be.”
According to Texas A&M AgriLife, demand for beef is increasing — and it’s also affecting the consumer.
Brian Amundson, a Jamestown cattle rancher, said, “It’s really not correlating with what the consumer is seeing on the retail shelf and everything else, which is great because we love to see the demand for beef out there and consumers going out there and purchasing beef. You know, a lot of people would assume that is trickling down to the ranches and the feed yards and those type of things, and right now it’s not.”
While the prices for cattle are stagnant, prices of other commodities are on the rise — hurting ranchers even more.
Amundson said, “Unfortunately we need to use a lot of those grain commodities and hay products and stuff that are going up in prices.”
The continuing drought is also worsening the blow to North Dakota ranchers.
“It’s definitely a challenge, the grass that is green, you’re right, a lot of the water is not there, a lot of the dugouts are very low. It’s last year’s water, I know locally our local James River did not run, it’s last year’s water there, so water quality is definitely going to be an issue,” said Schafer.
Amundson said the drought is forcing some to downsize their herds.
“You know, we work with the natural resources that we’re given, and what we could be doing now is actually harming and detrimental in the future years to come,” said Amundson.
Ranchers are feeling the crunch right now, but are hoping to get some relief one way or another in the near future.