Why is meat an arm and a leg?

It is not a new question! Why has the price of meat gone up so much? The short and easy answer is: there is a major shortage of cattle in Canada and the United States!

“Heifers for beef replacement were down 7.4 per cent to 622,100 head, heifers for slaughter were down 4.7 per cent to 836,200 head and calves under one year were down 5 per cent to 3,861,300 head. The Canadian beef cow inventory declined for the third consecutive year and is the lowest since 2015.”   –  canadiancattlemen.ca

“In the United States cattle inventory numbers have fallen back to the mid 1950S !” according to the United States department of agriculture national agricultural statistics service (USDA-NASS)

This is not just a one off thing. In the United States the peak year for cattle inventory was in 1978 with around 130 million animals. In 2024 it has declined to 87,157,400. For just shy of 50 years there has been less and less animals and more and more people. Canada hasn’t been in as rapid a drop off but it is still on a consistent decline.

A few reasons why this is the case in my opinion and talking with other farmers and ranchers is there are fewer and fewer people who take on the responsibility of raising cattle. It is endless hours of work, its a 24 hour job. Very few people want to be married to their farm/ranch. A farmer puts in time, effort and lots of dollars in the spring season to till the ground, buy seeds, plant, and pray for rain so their a crop will grow. In  the summer you put in endless hours and finance to harvest your crop so you will have the feed and materials you will need to care for your animals over the winter so you can make it to spring again to start the cycle over. Every cost that a farmer/rancher is associated with has increased, some as much as double. The cost of seed has skyrocketed. Fuel has jumped way up, meaning you can go only half as far as before for the same price. Repairs and maintenance coupled with “supply chain” issues plague us. An example for myself on a piece of machinery. I was quoted a price of $600 dollars for a part that had worn out during cropping in august. They could not get one due to supply chain issues so I was forced to wait even though I ordered it and paid for it. When it finally showed up in the spring 6 months later it was also attached with a new little price tag for $1833. Bite the bullet and carry on, this is just one small example of what a farmer faces.

So why do we do it? That is the biggest problem we face! Not many people want to. People don’t want to put money out and go into debt with the hope of breaking even or getting marginally ahead in the fall when they sell their animals but that is the cycle we choose to be in. The fact that unless you are a “super farm” with thousands of animals to make it, no one wants to work a regular job to subsidize their cattle ranch or farm, but unfortunately in the area I live in that is the case for every single farmer. You simply cannot make ends meet by growing food to feed the world on a small “family farm”

We are trying to fight this uphill battle! We look at how nature was created to work and try not to re invent the wheel thinking that I have a better way of doing it. In raising cattle I strive to put them in as natural and healthy of an environment as I can. I also find the beauty and reward in being able to raise our children on a farm, where the good times go with the bad, fun chores and ones we dislike are done one in the same. Learning that the animals are cared for before ourselves, that the world doesn’t revolve around us.   This is a lifestyle we choose because we love it. There are so many good things that you can’t put a price tag on go along with the struggle and turmoil.  At the end of the day it was best summarized to me by an old and wise farmer that’s been doing it for a long time. “Justin”, he said “I think God just made some of us with dirt between our toes.”

For any questions, comments or discussion please email info@lemieuxcreekranch.com