A slice of the protein market

As consumers are lighting up their charcoal and gas grills for a slice of beef, pork, lamb or poultry we are in one of those periods where prices are good across most sectors.

Of course, there are headwinds for consumers—concerns over a possible recession— and the impact of inflation. Contributor Naomi Blohm noted in her recent Ag Finance column it was just one year ago that consumers were driven to purchase steaks for the summer holidays but now they are seeking less expensive cuts of beef, including hamburger, chucks and rounds. Higher values are seeing some pullback.

Field Editor Kylene Scott also noted in a recent article the pressure on pork producers who faced at one point a $40 per head drop in market prices in the past year while seeing input costs go up 50%. They also have taken note of California’s Proposition 12 that has a greater say on how hogs are raised.

Poultry has also had to maneuver through the highly pathogenic avian influenza outbreak, which has driven up turkey and chicken prices. Lamb has faced similar challenges particularly for labor. The lamb industry has made some headway into non-traditional markets and that may continue. Representatives of beef, dairy, poultry and lamb all spoke at the recent House agricultural subcommittee hearing.

Seasoned producers and experts share common perspectives—there is no easy route to bypass risk. Those advisors say while the market may be sending a signal to expand the individual farmer and rancher’s focus may need to play a more cautious hand. The widespread drought, which has shown signs of easing in certain regions, has made subsoil moisture deficient. Until normalcy returns on the moisture front trying to push double crop may only aggravate the situation.

Likewise, without adequate moisture to pastures and rangeland cow-calf producers have been making adjustments already.

One of our focuses at HPJ has been to cover stories that can help producers as they plan ahead. The impact of a multi-year drought is going to be felt for several years. Veteran farmers and ranchers know that drought means tightening up on expenses but to also use those years to lay the groundwork for a time when a better economic landscape returns. History has shown us they will return.

We would also encourage farmers and ranchers to continue to check on their neighbors as drought and leaner times add to stress and none of us should feel we are alone and distraught. Without family, friends, and neighbors, a bottom line is meaningless.

Dave Bergmeier can be reached at 620-227-1822 or [email protected].