Will Cattle Disaster in Plains Spike Beef Prices At Home? - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

01/05/06-Smith County

Will Cattle Disaster in Plains Spike Beef Prices At Home?

Crews continue to try to save tens of thousands of cattle, stranded in feet-high snow in Colorado and Midwestern states.

At least 4,000 head have died already.  The National Guard has been dropping hay from helicopters in a desperate bid to save many more, though the prospects for survival are dimming.

Now, there are concerns the price we pay for beef here at home could soon skyrocket.

However, a veteran East Texas cattleman we spoke with says there will be a shortage of beef, but he has a prediction that may ease your fears.  

"We can get carried away on anything and those things happen," says former agriculture extension agent Randall Grooms.

"It is serious for those people who are truly involved."

But here in East Texas, a thousand miles away, the grass is green, and Grooms says while it's an industry disaster, thousands of cattle lost aren't enough to affect the market significantly.

"We have cattle grown in almost every state, and we have concentrations. Some states concentrate them more than others," he says of the nationwide spread of cattle-raising.

National experts are calling for an increase in the price per pound of beef, but just a few cents.  At least so far.

Unlike citrus in Florida or lettuce in California where one bad storm wipes out the year's crop, grooms says the market can handle it.

"There'll be some cattle frozen.  There'll be something's like that, but, gosh, we can have floods, we can have so many things that can affect the number of cattle.  But on the average, they average out year-in and year-out," he says.

Grooms says he is praying for rain to end the drought here, grow more grass and hay, and put better beef on the table.

Experts say it may be several weeks before we know just how many cattle have died.  Not only does snow have to be cleared, but livestock often succumb after a storm from respiratory problems.

The last cattle disaster from a storm like this was ten years ago.  35,000 head died then, though the average price for beef in stores only increased a penny per pound.

Reported by Morgan Palmer. 

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