From The Ground Up: Beef Market Has Improved

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Back in the fall of 2015, cattle prices plummeted and the low beef prices continued during 2016. Now that we’re about half way through 2017, beef producers are cautiously hopeful. Bobby Kurten ranches in Brazos County.

“The market was so good for a year or so and then it broke off last year and it went down and everybody was devastated. We very rarely will get it to where everything works just right with us where it’s the market, the rain, the rest of the weather, the cost of inputs, and all of that.”

Kurten is encouraged by what he’s seen so far this year.

“The market has come back and responded real well this spring. It really has gone back and it’s got it where we’re kind of optimistic again. The numbers have kind of stabilized I think.”

Kurten says the feed industry can respond quicker to supply/demand issues than the cow calf industry.

“If we’re running low and the price gets high they can add a few pounds to each head that comes through the feedlot, and produce a lot of pounds of meat. If it goes the other way, they can kind of back off a little bit, and not feed them so heavy, and kind of rule the supply a little bit that way.”

Kurten doesn’t believe that the average consumer understands how complicated the cattle business is.

“If you follow it from a replacement heifer, and getting her bred, and her having a calf, and then her becoming a cow, and her calves, where they go in the food chain until they get on somebody’s plate, it is really, really complicated. You can have the best piece of meat out there, and let the wrong person cook it, and it’s not going to taste good. That wasn’t the fault of anybody back down the line, it’s the way you cooked it.”