Beef supplies expected to increase - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Beef supplies expected to increase

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Cattle at Cal Poly (KSBY photo) Cattle at Cal Poly (KSBY photo)

You likely won't find a shortage of beef next time you visit the grocery store. 
A new report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts that beef supplies will rise by 3 percent this year. 
This is already true for the cattle operation at Cal Poly. During the drought, they slashed their cattle numbers by 60 percent, selling three loads of cattle right away. Now, they have nearly 200 cow/calf pairs. 
With more grass for the cattle to eat, things are looking up. 
"Bottom line it means more money, first of all. We're able to wean more calves or more pounds per acre and also just more calves in general, had more cattle with the green grass," said Aaron Lazanof, Beef Operations Manager at Cal Poly. 
Three years ago, weaned calves were sold for more than $2.50 a pound. Last year, it was $1.40. 
"Now we're kind of going back to that normal cattle cycle of every five years but we're kind of seeing a little spike in it this year compared to last year, so we're a little bit higher, about 10 cents higher, looks like now with the last sale that I watched," Lazanof said. 
Generally, more cattle would mean cheaper beef but Lazanof says, "I don't see our prices dropping a whole lot as far as for the consumer."
A new deal with China means by late summer U.S. ranchers will be shipping beef to that country once again. More than a decade ago, China stopped importing U.S. beef after a case of mad cow disease was discovered in Washington State. 
"If we can open up those markets to overseas and get those going a little bit more, that will definitely help maintain our cattle prices and keep our prices up higher," Lazanof concluded. 
With more production expected, the USDA anticipates declines in cattle prices and increased beef exports. The USDA also says total red meat production in 2018 is forecast at 54 billion pounds. That's 2.8 percent more than expected this year. 

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