Where’s the grass-fed beef?

Last summer we were cooking hamburgers at the beach. One fellow wasn’t in the mood for hamburger at first, but once he tried one, he remarked at how good it tasted. We’ve switched to grass-fed beef – and organic food in general – in the last few years because it seems safer and tastes better.

Last weekend, the checker-outer at Trader Joe’s tossed the small package of grass-fed hamburger into my blue and white cloth bag and told me that it was good time to get beef because the drought would be raising prices. “The California drought?” I asked. “Kansas, I think,” she said. I suppose I should have run to the meat counter and grabbed all they had because she was right.

Another drought victim — grass-fed beef

How hard is the drought hitting California farmers? Here’s one more example — Marin Sun Farms, one of the pioneers of grass-fed beef, is going to start feeding some of its cattle on grain. There’s just not enough grass to keep them alive.
“We kept thinking we’d be fine, but we didn’t get any rain and we didn’t get any rain and we just reached a breaking point where we decided we had to pull out this other marketing plan,” says Marin Sun owner David Evans, who has been raising grass-fed beef on his family’s fourth-generation Marin County ranch since 1998.
The company’s marketing director, Jeff Bordes, says the decision was wrenching. “Marin Sun Farms has been built on 100% grass-fed beef since it started. It definitely has been a tough move for us. What this drought has done is really force us to diversify our program when we’re facing seasons like this winter. It was either do this or go out of business.”

U.S. cattle herd the smallest since 1951

Unrelenting drought across large swaths of the Great Plains, Texas and California has led to the smallest U.S. cattle herd since 1951, shrinking the supply of beef. That has sent prices higher for everything from rump roasts to rib-eyes. The U.S. Department of Agriculture said the average retail price per pound for fresh beef in January was $5.04, the highest price ever on records that date back to 1987. …

“Even the (beef) dog bones, those have gone up quite a bit,” [a meat market manager] said. “We used to give those away.”

Persistent Calif. drought to delay U.S. cattle herd rebuilding

The silver lining in the cloud hanging over California’s cattle industry is that a scarcity of cattle nationally has kept prices high, allowing ranchers to at least turn a modest profit that might help them later, said Malorie Bankhead, a spokeswoman for the California Cattlemen’s Association in Sacramento.

“Then it comes down to where will the cattle be that they can use to replenish their herds down the road,” she said.


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One response to “Where’s the grass-fed beef?”

  1. trkingmomoe says :

    Beef is very expensive even for non organic. Cattle ranchers are doing well here in Florida. Florida is a big producer of Beef and Dairy. They have been expanding herds here but it takes a couple of years to get them to market size.

    That rancher probably don’t have any choice in order to save his breeding stock. It will be years before he can receive his organic certification back. It took my CSA farm 5 years to get certified in produce. They got a contract this winter with Whole Food and spring planting has been doubled. It is a non profit so that means the money will go into helping local food banks. The extra food is picked and sent to food banks.

    I don’t have the money to switch to pure organic. But I have frozen and canned all the extra I get. I have gone meatless one or two times a week. I have been gathering some great recipes out of European food blogs in clever ways of making beans and lentils into burgers and loafs. I also found a shop called Richards that is an organic shop. It is small but I can get spices, grains, and beans by the bulk and they are cheaper per oz, then Walmart and it is all organic. Even the oatmeal tastes better. Richards is a national chain. This is just a small franchise. I have learned to make my own sausage but it is not organic meat. My food bill is less now even when I figure in the cost of my CSA share. They told me that I probably would not find it cheaper to buy a share then just shopping for it. The advantage was it was organic and fresh. I take advantage of all the free you picks and that is were I am saving. I am usually the only one who you picks on Saturday during pick up. They can tell I don’t have one nickle to rub against another by the car I drive so they let me pick as much as I want and can carry. Mostly it is the ugly produce that is left in the field. The stuff they know they can’t sell.

    I read about the 1951 level of cattle a few weeks ago. .


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