Beef prices burdening ranchers, restaurants, consumers

By: Amy Lipman Email
By: Amy Lipman Email

LOMA, Colo. For Strayhorn Grill, cutting down on beef grilling in the kitchen isn't an option even while paying the highest beef prices in almost 30 years.

"It’s made it hard as a restaurant owner because we primarily serve beef," said Sheryl Martin, owner of Strayhorn Grill. "The prices have probably increased 30-35% even in the last year."

Sheryl has had to pass the expense down to her customers, so she doesn't have to sacrifice meat quality.

"This time last year I paid about $8.95 for a prime rib and this year the price is about $12," she said. "I have to raise my prices. I’ve only raised them once in the last year because I don’t want to give an inferior quality product."

The problem began when drought conditions decreased cattle supply for ranchers throughout the past few years, in turn, raising cattle prices.

"Cattle numbers are at a low we haven't seen since the 1950's," said Bill Martin, owner of Western Slope Cattleman's Auction.

Cattle exports are growing, which keeps supply down, but also allows even higher beef prices to stay out of the country.

"The housewife of the United States is seeing a little bit higher prices, but not near what they would if we didn't have our good exports," he said.

Ranchers don't expect prices to improve for a couple of years as they need time to breed and bulk up cattle herds.

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