Cattle supply down, beef prices up

Longhorn cattle graze in one of Kent Walker\'s pastures in Frederick, Okla., on Tuesday, April 23, 2013. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

WASHINGTON – It’s not just grillers seeing red with higher beef prices this summer – it’s everyone’s problem.

Two summers’ worth of hot and dry weather in Texas, Oklahoma and other cattle states forced some ranchers to cull their herds. In fact, the average cattle herd size at the end of 2012 was down to its lowest level since 1952, The Wall Street Journal reports.

In addition, there’s been an increase in overseas demand for U.S. beef. The combination has driven an increase in beef prices for consumers in recent years.

So what’s a hungry griller to do? Forgo the “choice” beef cuts, advises Maya Henningman, owner of Wilson Farms Meat Company in Catlett, Va.

“If you don’t mind marinating, then you could probably use a lower grade of beef,” Henningman says.

Either way, consumers will have to decide if they can stomach paying more. Higher beef prices are expected to be the norm for the near future.

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