Climate Change and the Rise in Beef Prices

The price of beef has risen to $5.28 per pound, the highest since 1987, reflecting both increased demand and record drought in the U.S.’s major cattle regions. As the climate warms, causing drought in the Southwest and Midwest, reduced crop yields drive up the cost of cattle feed, forcing cattle farmers to reduce herd sizes. The country’s cattle population is now around 88 million, the lowest since 1951. As the supply of cattle dwindles, demand has risen. This rise can be attributed, at least in part, to the rate of exports to China, where the country’s 1.35 billion people consume more than twice the amount of beef than the U.S. population. As costs continue to rise, U.S. consumers may turn to other sources of protein, including chicken and non-animal sources.
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