Weak cattle market could mean lower costs for grilling this summer

While consumers can expect lower beef prices for grilling season because of a drought in the Plains states, some are concerned about how the glut in the market will affect Illinois farmers.

Droughts in the Plains states could impact the cattle market for the summer months. Extreme droughts in key states such as Texas and Oklahoma have forced ranchers to send cattle to feed yards. That means a saturated market within the next quarter that is projected to cause futures to fall.

That means consumers could see lower prices at the store as those in the cattle trade look to cut costs.

“We’ve just come off of a tough year from a cow-calf standpoint where we ended up dry in the fall,” said Travis Meteer, beef cattle educator at the University of Illinois Extension.

This comes after difficult times in markets for feed such as grains and soybeans, leading some Illinois economists to wonder where the state’s farmers stand.

“There are a lot of factors that impact the market,” Meteer said. “Any market analyst or advisor for the last solid year has really been pushing producers to use some kind of risk management.”

Meteer said this has farmers looking at overhead costs such as feed and gas to find savings.

Risk management has become increasingly used within the Illinois feed and meat markets, with industry insiders relying on easier access to grains and byproducts to mitigate disruptions from droughts and international markets.

“Trade is a huge discussion in the cattle market … We really need export markets in the beef business to keep our markets strong,” Meteer said.

Meteer said he expects demand will remain high.

“From a consumer standpoint, there’s not only going to be more beef but there’s also going to be more of those other meats available as well,” he said.