Cattle Production Plummets To Lowest Level In Decades

A cattle rancher is warning that Americans are “going to pay the price” for the beef supply plummeting to its lowest levels in decades.

“This is a bad situation for America’s cattle farmers and America because we’re producing 1 billion pounds less beef than we were in this country, just a year ago,” John Boyd, Jr., president of the National Black Farmers Association, said during a Thursday discussion on “Fox & Friends First.”

“We’re not investing in America’s beef and cattle farmers, and Biden policies are hurting America’s cattlemen, such as myself. They should be invested in America’s cattle farmers and making sure that we have the tools needed to stay on the farm,” he continued.

He then mentioned that cattle ranchers “have everything stacked up against” them, with “Bill Gates saying to eat fake meat” and the U.N. “saying to not support beef producers and eat less beef.” Boyd also raised an alarm about empty stalls at a “very good” cattle market near his home in Virginia.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), nationwide total beef cattle inventory dropped to 28.2 million this year, the lowest level since the 1970s and down 2% from last year. The calf crop is the smallest calf crop since 1948.

Total U.S. cattle and calf inventory dropped to the lowest level since 1951, and is down 10% since 2020.

Prices have risen dramatically in the last 20 years, with the price of ground beef up 105.5%, roasts up 84%, and steaks up 91%. These prices are rising faster than the CPI average inflation, which is 68.8% since 2003.

According to agricultural economists, persistent drought, high input costs, and inflation are contributing factors to the decline in cattle production.

Bernt Nelson, an economist with the American Farm Bureau Federation, highlighted concerns about the lowered production, saying, “The combination of higher input prices and drought drove farmers and ranchers to market more cattle, and not just more cattle but more female cattle that are responsible for replacing the beef herd. Now, we’re looking at a beef herd of about 28.2 million head. Amongst that we have a calf crop that is 33.6 million.

Now this is down two percent, but it’s the smallest calf crop since 1948. That’s in 76 years.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, beef sold for an average of $5 per pound last year.