Oklahoma Drought Impacting Meat Prices Across The State

Tuesday, May 27th 2014, 7:15 pm
By: News 9

Numbers can often times tell most of the story. Nationwide cattle herds are at the lowest total population in almost 60 years. And Oklahoma businesses are forced to make decisions like never before.

"It's a blessing from God to see people continue to support us regardless of what we have to do to prices," said owner of Van's Pig Stands, Jev Vandegrift.

At Van's Pig Stands, a little black on the brisket is a sign of preparedness. But recently, Vandegrift was unprepared for where else he has to put black.

"We had never done that before," said Vandegrift. "We're changing it on an as needed basis."

Vandegrift is blacking out prices of brisket, as opposed to reprinting menus that would have cost him hundreds of dollars. The reason? Increased beef prices. Since February alone, Vandegrift has seen the cost of Flat cut Brisket increase almost $2 per pound.

"If I don't adjust my prices we are going to start losing money and I'll go out of business."

One concern cut from a much larger issue is the nationwide drought.

"The total effect has been very devastating according to the total cow herd numbers," said Oklahoma Cattleman's Association VP, Michael Kelsey.

Those are numbers Kelsey hasn't heard of since the late 1940's.

"We'd love to rebuild, but right now it's very challenging with the drought. So if there is an opportunity, we will," said Kelsey.

It is an opportunity state climatologist Gary McManus estimates won't be around for another 3-6 months due to just a normal rain season.

"We're still seeing at least 2/3rds of the state in a significant drought," said McManus.

Right now this 3rd generation owner is just doing what he must to secure a future for the 4th generation.

"I can only react to what the market is doing," said Vandegrift.

Vandegrift and Kelsey also mentioned that while the cost of beef increases, the consumer demand remains consistent across the board.