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The Weekly News Source for Wyoming's Ranchers, Farmers and AgriBusiness Community

American Beef, the Best

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

From the Publisher: Dennis Sun

American beef is the best in the world. I’m not bragging. It is proven and supported by worldwide demand for our beef. This demand has been constant despite the high prices people are paying for American beef.

CattleFax says, “The higher trend of beef at retail is expected to continue, with prices forecasted to reach eight dollars per pound sometime in the next few months. Expect more modest beef retail prices moving into the second half of the year as economic challenges remain for the consumer.” 

The current average price of beef is around $7.89 per pound, which is up six cents per pound from February and 66 cents per pound from year-ago levels.

CattleFax goes on to say, “While beef prices have pushed higher at a fairly consistent rate over the last few years, the same cannot be said for pork and chicken. Both composite pork and composite broiler prices increased rapidly during the COVID-19 pandemic but have since moved in a more sideways pattern, failing to retest the highs in price set in the fall of 2022.”

“Moving forward, we can expect higher beef prices to be supportive of prices in the pork and chicken complexes,” CattleFax continues. “Higher prices in the retail case will be necessary to ration tighter beef supplies, which will ultimately lead to levels of consumer substitution to alternative proteins.”

I cringe when I hear “alternative proteins,” but understand with ever-present inflation, consumers have to look elsewhere, while hopefully still favoring beef.

To some, imported beef is a curse, while others say it adds value to some beef byproducts such as beef fat. Imported beef is usually really lean beef, but when American beef fat is mixed with lean beef, you will have a good added-value hamburger product. 

The value of beef trimmings is reflected in the current high prices of cull cows and bulls ranchers are receiving today. 

Americans need to be very careful of which imported beef is allowed into the U.S. The Biden administration’s November rule to approve fresh beef imports from Paraguay has raised concerns with many in the U.S., as Paraguay has a long history of foot and mouth disease (FMD) in their cattle. 

This disease can be transmitted to the U.S. from fresh meat cuts. While most of the meat from Paraguay is trimmings, it is fresh. 

There hasn’t been a FMD outbreak in the U.S. since 1929. In contrast, Paraguay’s last reported outbreak was in 2012. 

Kent Bacus, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association executive director of governmental affairs, said, “Eighty-five percent of beef consumed in the U.S. is American beef. This creates a responsibility to make sure our reputation is protected. When we have countries which have a questionable track record, we have concerns it could undermine the integrity of the entire U.S. beef system.” 

Eighty-five percent of Paraguay’s FMD mitigation measures are funded from the private sector, not the government. There are concerns they can continue to fund the level of safety they claimed when the U.S. Department of Agriculture considered on their risk assessment.

Paraguay wants to tell other countries, “If our meat is good enough to import into the U.S., it should be good enough for other countries to do so as well.”

I don’t feel the U.S. should be supporting Paraguayan beef at the risk of American beef – the world’s best.

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