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Drought Pushes Dairy, Beef Prices Up

dairy cowsDairy and beef prices could spike from the hotter-than-normal summer heat and worsening drought conditions.

Beef prices hit an all-time high earlier this month because of the 2012 US drought, Bloomberg reports.

AccuWeather.com says consumers could soon begin to see a rise in dairy costs after record-breaking high temperatures scorched the West in late June and early July, and a prolonged heat wave continues across the Midwest.

Marie teVelde, a California Dairies spokesperson, says cows eat less when it’s hotter outside and produce less milk as a result.

According to AccuWeather.com expert senior meteorologist Alex Sosnowski and head of AccuWeather.com’s long-range forecasting team Paul Pastelok, heat will be coming in and out of the Plains through mid August and for the next two weeks, the Midwest will have temperatures in the 80s and 90s.

The Southwest will catch a break as building monsoon conditions trim the heat down for the Four Corners area, but temperatures will increase over the Great Basin and West. The mercury will be especially high come September when this region will reach its hottest point of the year.

Additionally, drought conditions across the West have affected rangelands, leaving little water and forage for livestock, prompting the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to undertake targeted actions, such as reducing grazing.

In southwestern Montana, for example, the BLM has restricted permitted ranchers to graze no more than 70 percent of their allotted forage on BLM-managed lands, BLM principal deputy director Neil Kornze says.

Hot, dry conditions continue to persist west of the Mississippi River, with at least 15 states experiencing drought. For example, 93 percent of rangeland and pastures are rated poor or very poor in New Mexico; 59 percent in Colorado; 35 percent in Wyoming; and 17 percent in Utah, according to BLM. Similar conditions exist in Nevada, where more than 60 percent of the state has been in severe or extreme drought conditions since the beginning of 2013.

As of late last week, the US Drought Monitor said “moderate to exceptional” areas of reached 44.85 percent, up from 44.06 percent a week ago, expanding drought conditions for the fourth week in a row, Reuters reports.


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