East Texas drought causing ranchers to sell herds

Ranchers are having to sell or, worse, slaughter herd
Ranchers are having to sell or, worse, slaughter herd

ANGELINA COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - The East Texas drought could mean a big hike in beef prices.

Many East Texas cattle ranchers are making a business decision to sell their herds to greener pastures.

So, where's the beef?

In many cases, cattle are heading straight to the butcher -- meaning less beef in the national market.

The drought has emptied  pastures and it could cause consumers to see an increase in beef prices.

"I've pretty well sold everything that I had. It just got to where it was taking so much hay and so much feed to do it that you couldn't really afford to keep them as high as cattle prices were," said Harrell Moore, Moore Cattle Company.

Moore is one of many ranchers across East Texas that have sold their cattle to greener pastures.

Others have gone to the butcher, meaning less calves are being produced.

But he and other agriculture experts say the East Texas drought is only one of many factors playing a role in the cattle shortage.

"We've had droughts from the East Coast, Georgia and Alabama out to the Carolinas, even into Kentucky and prior to that Colorado four to five years ago, a lot of cows were liquidated," said Moore.

"When we look at the beef product, that's a result of a nationwide effort, so that's much bigger than Texas," said Cary Sims, Angelina County AgriLife Extension agent.

Although Sims says the cost of beef depends largely on the national market, Sims says if the price does increase, consumers will see it not only in stores, but in restaurants."

And since Climatologist predict East Texans are in for another dry year, Sims isn't encouraging ranchers to start buying back cattle.

"It goes on down and usually you can feed cattle in the feed lot for anywhere from 60 to 70 cents a pound and it's costing $1.10-.15 to put a pound of gain on. You figure all that and meat is going to be high," said Moore.

Although it seems the trickle down effect to consumers is inevitable, only time will tell how big that price hike will be.

"It's going to make a lot of difference if we get some moisture back in the ground, but we don't know what the future holds," said Moore.

The value of the dollar is so low, agriculture experts say many countries are buying American beef because it's cheaper, meaning less beef for those in the United States.

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