From the Ground Up - Can Beef Prices Get Too High?

With calf prices and beef at the retail level both continuing to remain high, we asked the question, can they get too high?

David Anderson is a Texas A&M Agrilife Extension economist.

“Can they be too high? Not if you’re selling, but if you’re buying, absolutely they can be too high.”

Local rancher Lee Denena agrees with him, even though he’s a seller rather than a buyer.

“It does scare me on the demand side. I feared, similar to the way I feared with corn, a few years ago when we were talking about eight dollar corn. When the buyer finds an alternative market, sometimes they don’t come back, and so it does concern me a little bit.”

Of course, when it comes to putting food on the table, Denena’s family has a budget just like most folks do.

“My wife goes down to the grocery store, as do every other, and if, I nudge her towards the beef. I don’t like to see chicken on the table too often but I understand why it is.”

With prices as high as they are, ranchers hope that their marketing efforts will continue to help to move their end product in the market place.

“I could go on for days too, about the competitive edge that the poultry producers have in the cost of production, so we’ve got good marketing groups behind us, you know the Cattlemen’s Association and the Beef Check Off have done great things and I think it’s paid off extraordinarily over the years that it’s been in effect.”

Like most involved in production agriculture, Denena remains confident in what he’s doing.

“The product itself is so versatile, meaning beef. From ground beef, all the way it to the highest, most quality steaks to be cut off the calf, we’ve got something for everybody, even in the high market. Maybe we’re not eating filet mignon, but we’re still eating a lot of ground beef. I’m an optimist in that respect. It’ll be OK, but it is a concern.”