LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) – The highest beef prices in almost three decades have arrived just before the start of grilling season, causing sticker shock for both consumers and restaurant owners – and relief isn’t likely anytime soon.
A dwindling number of cattle and growing export demand from countries such as China and Japan have caused the average retail cost of fresh beef to climb to $5.28 a pound in February, up almost a quarter from January and the highest price since 1987.
Everything that’s produced is being consumed, said Kevin Good, an analyst at CattleFax, a Colorado-based information group. And prices likely will stay high for a couple of years as cattle producers start to rebuild their herds amid big questions about whether the Southwest and parts of the Midwest will see enough rain to replenish pastures.
Dairy farmer Ron Koetsier’s 1,200 cows produce roughly 90 tons of manure daily, and for the last three decades, he has tried unsuccessfully to turn the stinky dung into energy to power his 450-acre farm in Visalia.
He installed a nearly $1-million renewable energy system in 1985 that used the methane from manure to create electricity for his farm. In 2002, he replaced that system with newer technology, but he hit a snag when air-quality standards called for expensive retrofits to reduce air pollution; he eventually shut down the system in 2009.
In a few weeks, however, Koetsier’s renewable-energy efforts will get a reboot as a new company replaces his current system with one that is expected to satisfy strict air standards in the highly polluted San Joaquin Valley.
A decade or so ago, dozens of California dairy farmers built million-dollar systems called methane digesters that convert manure into power. Then, unexpected pollution problems, regulatory roadblocks and low rates of return killed most such digester systems, leaving only a handful in operation.
They are among 14 that escaped from farm; police say 1 died on impact, and 1 hit by truck.
Cumru Township police Sgt. James Griffith experienced a first in his career when two cows died after falling onto Route 222 from the Old Lancaster Pike overpass near Gouglersville.
Griffith said one cow died on impact while the other was hit by a tractor-trailer about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday.
The cows belonged to a herd of 14 that escaped from a farm on Beavens Road in Brecknock Township, he said.
They were first spotted near the Gouglersville Fire Company about 1 p.m. before making their way to the retaining wall at the Old Lancaster Pike overpass, Griffith said.
Who would have ever thought proximity to Route 422 would be a litmus test for a good corn crop? Certainly not I. However, that is the case in Berks County. Farms south of 422 are in good shape and farms north of 422 are suffering.
July’s above normal temperatures, coupled with a lack of rain has caused tremendous damage to corn crops in Berks County located north of 422. Farms south of 422 received more rain and the clay-like soil holds moisture better. Most farms in Berks County do not use irrigation to water crops.
Berks County is not the only place where the corn crop is doing poorly. Nationwide it is estimated that corn yields will be down 40 percent! This translates into higher prices at the supermarket for you and I!
Another casualty of the heat has been milk production. Cows do not like heat (sounds familiar) and when they are hot they eat less and produce less milk!