Midwest Drought Impacting the Dinner Table | NECN

Midwest Drought Impacting the Dinner Table

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Record-high grain prices are changing the cost of meat for families (Published Friday, Jan. 17, 2014)

    (NECN/WTHR: Rich Van Wyk) - The impact of the devastating drought throughout the Midwest is spreading from the farm to our dinner tables.   

    Record high grain prices are changing the cost of hamburgers, rib eye steaks and all the other cuts of beef.  

    Buy now or pay more later…possibly a lot more.
    Customers at Kincaid's Market with families to feed have every reason to be concerned.  

    "We eat a lot of filet and buffalo burgers and I just worry with the drought and the price of grain going up, that it's going to skyrocket," Shopper Kate Vicars said.   

    Beef prices, the USDA says, are already up about 15-percent from two years ago and may jump another 5-percent next year. 

    After 30 years in the business, Butcher Shawn Kelley fears the price of prime cuts - the highest quality of beef - may shoot even higher.

    "Could go up 20-25 percent. It's guesswork right now, because you don't know how long the drought's going to last," Kelley said.  

    The drought has already sent grain prices to record highs. Corn futures are trading at $8 a bushel, that's almost twice what corn cost four years ago.  

    It takes a lot of grain to raise beef. Grain prices are so high a lot of cattlemen are finding out they can't afford to feed their livestock. They're sending whole herds to the slaughter house.  

    The rush to sell beef cattle and dairy cows is giving consumers some temporary savings.  

    "All of a sudden in the last couple of weeks, prices on beef are going down. How far down it's going to go, we don't know," Kelley said.  

    Or for how long.

    Families looking to save money later should be looking for sales now.

    "So it's a good time to get high-quality steaks and put them in the freezer," Kelley said.

    For big families with big appetites, meat lockers and freezers may be their new safe deposit boxes.