Thanks to lower corn prices, improved pasture conditions and increased domestic demand, beef cattle producers can expect to continue to see record prices for beef this year, according to a beef cattle expert with Ohio State University's College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.
Add to the equation that the beef cow herd is the smallest in decades, exports are increasing in volume and value, and pork and poultry are in tighter supply and beef producers are seeing prices that they've never seen before, said John Grimes, beef coordinator for Ohio State University Extension.
"The beef industry is currently undergoing some of the most unique economic conditions in our history," Grimes said. "The economic conditions facing the beef industry today can best be described as a perfect storm.
"We have the smallest beef cow herd in decades, currently under 30 million cows, which is an 11.8% decline from 2007, plus tighter supplies of pork and poultry, which are our main competitors," he said.
To help producers understand more about what they can expect from the beef industry, OSU's Fall 2014 Beef Industry Outlook presentation is now available, allowing beef producers online access to information on many of the supply and demand, production, weather, feed, and consumer issues that are currently shaping the economic future of the beef industry.
"No one has seen these prices, so producers have a 'pinch me, I can't believe it's real' attitude right now," he said. "Enthusiasm is muted, because farmers and producers know that the market goes up and down and the challenges are that beef cattle require a certain amount of land mass, which is always a consideration.
"Also it takes at least 24 to 27 months from conception to consumption, so it's a slow process to expand a herd. So, how soon will conditions change? I don't know. It's really good now, but how long will it last?"