Good news to cattle ranchers, beef prices are rising

Thursday, October 2nd 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Oklahoma cattle ranchers are celebrating, US beef prices are at record high levels. News on 6 consumer reporter Rick Wells went to the Tulsa State Fair and the grocery store to talk to cattle ranchers and consumers about the price of beef.

This one-year-old Hereford steer named Boomer Sooner, belonging to 10-year-old Bailey Perkins of Locust Grove, is really proud of himself, beef prices are at record levels. "Highest I've seen since I've been around." Todd Perkins and his family have been raising cattle for a long time.

Lawrence Perkins: "Hereford prices are good." He says above 91 cents a pound, at auction that's up more than 30 cents over last year.

Boomer and these other steers are in the Tulsa State Fair Junior beef judging. The top 65 will be auctioned off on Friday. Several reasons for the higher prices, herds are smaller, the government banned Canadian beef imports because of a mad cow disease scare.

And even the Atkins diet is a factor. Lawrence Perkins: "We still eat beef, not as much bread I guess." That's the Atkins basics, lots of meat, and not many carbohydrates.

At the grocery beef prices are higher. The folks at Reasor's tell us they are up 15% to 20% since the spring. Grilling meats usually drop in price after Labor Day, not this year, not yet anyway. Most suppliers say not to expect much change 'til the first of the year. The higher prices haven't affected sales much; beef sales are still high too.

So cattle raisers are excited because of record high prices. Consumers seem OK with it because they want beef. Even Boomer Sooner seems happy. He wouldn’t be so cocky if he knew where he was headed after the show.

The cattle business is a $1.5-billion industry in Oklahoma. Experts say it's just basic economics, until beef supplies catch up with America's increasing demand for beef, prices will stay high.