Drought forces farmers to scale back and others to fold as economists warn of price hikes

Prices for beef could soon spike, following another year of widespread drought conditions


By Jiovanni Lieggi, FOXBusiness

September 19, 2022


Recent extreme temperatures in California and years of prolonged drought has created a bone-dry landscape in states across the country, ravaging crops and causing them to die off. Some farmers and economists are now warning that consumers are going to soon see price hikes for certain items and less food on store shelves.


With nearly half of the western region of the U.S. experiencing severe drought conditions, according to the National Drought Mitigation Center, and almost every area now classified as abnormally dry, some farmers are planting less while some ranchers are having to sell off cattle early and purchase less.


"You canít all of a sudden cut your income in half, especially when most of your costs continue to stay there and continue to do that year over year," rancher Stan Van Vleck said.


Soaring prices are also impacting farmers across the country, forcing some to fold and sell their farms. For farmers like Van Vleck, heís having to scale back his operation.


"After a few years, people will end up having to sadly sell their business and go out of business, and thatís just not good for the consumer," he said. For several years in a row because of the rising costs of raising cattle and drought conditions, he has purchased about 30% less cattle to raise.


"Two to three years ahead of time, weíre going to have a much smaller beef cattle herd to work off of. For any beef we see in the grocery store, and thatís going to push prices up," American Farm Bureau Association Economist Daniel Munch said.


Van Vleck owns and operates a more than 150-year-old ranch in Northern California, near the Sacramento Valley, and it's in an area that hasn't had much rain. He's just one of the many farmers faced with this challenge. "Because thereís less water, weíre producing about 30-40% less beef," he said...†


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