Last year the local TV news interviewed Dad about the drought. This year they interviewed him about the rise in beef prices. Let me just say, it’s not easy living with a celebrity. The hardest part is the paparazzi and the autograph hounds. It’s just one of the many things we have in common with Brad and Angie.
Here’s the interview. Dad would be the one driving the pickup and those would be our cows. The other gentlemen interviewed are friends and fellow cattle producers.
Now you may be tempted to think, as you were standing in the meat section of the grocery store, “Wow, those ranchers really have it made in the shade! Look how much these beef prices have gone up. Those ranchers are probably just sitting around counting their money.” But let me mention a couple of things before you go too far down that road.
- Cattle prices may have gone up but numbers have gone down. Most ranches have cut back on their numbers, some significantly, due to the drought, so they have far fewer to sell. Therefore, the total income for most hasn’t gone up and depending on how far they have been forced to cut back, may have gone down.
- Hay and corn prices have also gone up due to the drought, making feeding cattle through the winter much more costly. So ranchers are either forced to cut back, once again, on their numbers or spend a lot more to keep their cattle fed and healthy through the winter.
- Other expenses have gone up too. For instance, gas and diesel needed to run equipment has gone up, along with expenses like health insurance which is very expensive and difficult to get for anyone who is self employed.
- Then there’s tax headaches and the dilemma that current land prices are causing for already impossibly complicated estate planning.
- And then there’s all the time spent praying for rain. Did I mention there’s a drought? And hoping the country doesn’t catch on fire like last year.
- And all the time spent crossing our fingers that the price of beef doesn’t go up so much that you all stop buying it and forget how yummy a good steak tastes.
All I’m trying to say is, it’s more complicated and messy than it might seem at first glance or that a 2 minute news bit can uncover. But it’s also an honor and a privilege to be able to do what we do, so we’re ok with complicated and messy.
And now we are off to mountain to move cattle to greener pastures. So have a wonderful Fourth of July! And as you (hopefully) grill up those burgers to celebrate just know that there are farmers and ranchers out there working hard to make sure you have some great tasting food on your holiday table.