Drought forces Utah ranchers to sell off herds, drives beef prices up

Jul 7, 2021, 6:16 AM
beef prices to go up because of drought...
FILE: beefitswhatsfordinner.com via the Utah Cattlemen's Association

SALT LAKE CITY — When you visit a grocery store in the future, you might see higher beef prices as a result of the drought and its impact on cattle ranchers.

Drought forcing ranchers to sell cattle

Industry analysts say a lot of ranchers are being forced to get rid of more cattle than they want to because they’re unable to feed them during the drought.

Analysts say it isn’t just the high price of hay that’s plaguing Utah’s cattle farmers.  Utah Cattlemen’s Association Executive Vice President Brent Tanner says the arid conditions all over the state have essentially wiped out any grazing land ranchers could use.  Normally, ranchers from Utah could move their herds to neighboring states to graze, however, Tanner says that’s not a viable option this year.

“Right now, all of our neighboring states are in the same shape that we are,” he said.

This is forcing many ranchers to sell-off a lot of their cattle.  Tanner believes this could cause a significant supply problem in the next few years if cattlemen have to unload a lot of mother cows.  He calls them the “factories” that keep the beef industry going.

“The ‘factory’ is not there to start production for the beef product that would be consumed two or three years down the road,” according to Tanner.

How the drought affects beef prices

If ranchers have to sell their cattle en masse, wouldn’t that bring the prices down?  Tanner says, technically, it could in the near future.  However, the rising costs of transporting cattle and the increased demand for beef is keeping the prices high.

“Consumers are coming out of the pandemic.  The food service and restaurants are starting to pick up and go strong,” Tanner said.  “Our beef demand is very, very good right now.”

Tanner says many people ask him if they should stock up on beef before there’s any potential shortage.  He says it’s only a good idea if people buy what they know how to cook.

“A lot of people will go out and buy [a side of] beef and not know what exactly to do with it.  So, buy the cuts of beef you’re familiar with,” Tanner said.

The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food has a list of local producers on its Utah’s Own website.

More coverage: 

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories

Utah Drought

snowy trees pictured, the utah snowpack is currently doing well...
Hugo Rikard-Bell

Utah snowpack at a 10-year-high

The current snowpack in Utah is doing great and is at 167% of the median for the state.
1 day ago
great salt lake berm...
Carter Williams, KSL.com

Cox orders division to raise Great Salt Lake causeway berm another 5 feet

The order specifically calls on the division to raise the Great Salt Lake berm from 4,187 feet to 4,192 feet.
2 days ago
Sen. Nate Blouin, D-Salt Lake, left, and Rep. Joel Briscoe, D-Salt Lake, speak at a press conferenc...
Lindsay Aerts

Bill to set target water level for the Great Salt Lake dries up

The bill proposed by Sen. Nate Blouin, would set a target elevation goal at 4.198 feet. However, the bill died in committee.
6 days ago
Watershed Enhancement Trust, which aims to get water back to the lake. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret ...
Amie Schaeffer

$40M Great Salt Lake trust beginning work with newly formed council

The council will assist the trust as it looks for solutions to improve lake water levels.
7 days ago
Water levels have hit historic lows at the Great Salt Lake. (Fox 13)...
Ben Winslow, Fox 13

Water, Great Salt Lake bills to be unveiled in the Utah State Legislature

Lawmakers are expected to spend upwards of $500 million on water conservation and Great Salt Lake measures this year.
9 days ago
Rep. Joel Briscoe, D-Salt Lake City, speaks at a press conference about the Great Salt Lake at the ...
Carter Williams. KSL.com

Utah, Salt Lake leaders unveil new plans to improve the struggling Great Salt Lake

State and local leaders are prposing two pieces of legislation to help save the Great Salt Lake amid dropping water level.
13 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Skier being towed by a rider on a horse. Skijoring....
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking for a New Winter Activity? Try Skijoring in Bear Lake

This article about skijoring is sponsored by the Bear Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau. Participate in Skijoring the Bear on February 20th, 2023.  What is skijoring? Skijoring is when someone on skis is pulled by a horse, dog, animal, or motor vehicle. The driver leads the skiers through an obstacle course over jumps, hoops, and […]
Banner with Cervical Cancer Awareness Realistic Ribbon...
Intermountain Health

Five Common Causes of Cervical Cancer – and What You Can Do to Lower Your Risk

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness month and cancer experts at Intermountain Health are working to educate women about cervical cancer, the tests that can warn women about potential cancer, and the importance of vaccination.
Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get Ready for Fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy. This year the event will be held from January 27-29 at the Utah Bear Lake State Park Marina and Sunrise Resort and Event Center in Garden City, Utah. 
happy friends with sparklers at christmas dinner...

15 Easy Christmas Dinner Ideas

We’ve scoured the web for you and narrowed down a few of our favorite Christmas dinner ideas to make your planning easy. Choose from the dishes we’ve highlighted to plan your meal or start brainstorming your own meal plan a couple of weeks before to make sure you have time to shop and prepare.
Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...

5 Game Day Snacks for the Whole Family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...

The Best Tools for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Workplace Success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Drought forces Utah ranchers to sell off herds, drives beef prices up