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State Capitol News

Beef Prices Down in the State, But Remain High

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Beef prices are finally starting to drop in the state. But, as Arizona Public Radio's Howard Fischer reports, they’re still no bargain.

The new survey from the Arizona Farm Bureau shows some decline after a price bubble. For example, last year you could get a pound of ground chuck for $3.14. It hit $4.06 in the second quarter of 2014 but has since dropped to $3.73. And, a pound of sirloin tip roast, which cost just $5.15 a year ago, is now selling for $6.38. Still, the Farm Bureau's Julie Murphree said that’s a bit better than $6.45 a pound the prior quarter.

“That drop wasn’t that significant. So you might still go to the meat counter and say, hmmm, these prices are still a little bit high for me,” Murphree said.

The issue continues to be the question of supply and demand. Murphree said the number of cattle being raised remains tight, the result of ranchers deciding to raise fewer animals because of high feed prices. And, those feed prices are important because while the steers may spend most of their lives on the range, they get fattened up at feed lots before being turned into so many steaks, chops and hamburger.

“That's starting to change. But it doesn’t happen overnight because, remember, it takes about 24 months for a steer to come to market,” Murphree said.

The result is that lower feed prices ­­– and decisions being made now by ranchers on herd sizes – won't show up in lower prices until at least next year, if not beyond.

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