Drought and extreme weather have culled American cattle herds, leading to record highs in beef prices that aren't likely to come down anytime soon, Dan Hueber, general manager of agricultural advisory service The Hueber Report, told John Bachman and J.D. Hayworth on "America's Forum" on Newxmax TV.
"Realistically, there's no way of getting around it. It's going to be a longer-term problem here. Unlike something we're producing in a factory, we can't add a second shift here. It's going to take some time to rebuild the herds, to rebuild the profitability in that livestock sector," Hueber said.
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The reason it will take time is because newborn cattle must age between 18 and 24 months before they can be profitably slaughtered, Hueber said. Exacerbating the problem is that much of the cattle-growing territory in the Western U.S. is still experiencing drought, so the land isn't ready to support increased herds yet.
The combination of problems means high beef prices are likely to remain well into 2015, Hueber said.
"It's just one problem compounded on top of the next here to really get this to turn around right now," Hueber said.
Adding to the problem is that worldwide income levels are growing, particularly in South Asia and parts of Africa; as newcomers to the middle class add meat to their grain-based diets, the international demand for beef grows, Hueber said.
At the same time beef prices have spiked due to decreased cattle herd sizes, an outbreak of disease in pig herds has led to lower production levels and higher prices for pork in the U.S., according to the L.A. Times.
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