Meat sales increase while live cattle prices fall; USDA announces investigation into these price differences

Published: Apr. 9, 2020 at 9:39 PM CDT
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As people flock to grocery stores and buy in bulk, meat sales have risen 91 percent.

However, live cattle prices continue to descend.

Data shows ground beef sales alone for the week of March 22 were up $180 million from last year.

But this influx of beef buying hasn't helped ranchers as cattle prices continue to fall, down 16% since February.

Ranchers feel the prices of beef are completely out of their hands right now.

"It's such a big extreme right now, I mean, the grocery store prices to what we're selling beef for, it's a pretty large separation right now," said rancher Tyrel Franklund.

Four beef packing companies dominate much of the market, but putting some control back in the hands of ranchers has had bipartisan support.

"I don't know why we would help the companies at that level when we could be helping the farmer and the rancher more directly," said Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D.

Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., agrees, adding, "Our ranchers produce the highest quality beef in the world, and they deserve a fair price for their product."

Ranchers may be okay for now, but the unknown in the coming season is worrisome.

"I mean luckily for now I'm done marking my calves. It's going to be more worrisome how long-term impact this is going to be," said Franklund.

Decrease in restaurant visits also has producers quite confused in projecting where supply and demand will head.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced they will be investigating price fixing allegations within the cattle industry.