As cattle markets across North America continue to set new price records, things are certainly looking up for Alberta beef producers.
However, customers looking forward to this year’s barbecue season may have to brace themselves for rising costs.
Todd Wagner has 3,000 cattle on his farm in Stony Plain. After a decade of struggle - thanks to the mad cow disease crisis, the drought in the United States and losses here in Canada - he’s finally reaping rewards for his hard work.
Wagner called it a “perfect storm." The dollar has dropped, feed prices are lower and the cost of finished cattle has risen significantly.
This year, Wagner said cows are being sold for $2,100 each - a price higher than anything he’s ever seen in his life.
“I’ve never sold cattle that high as far as the finished price goes,” said Wagner. “It’s not even close. It’s 30 per cent above anything we’ve seen, for sure. It’s high. Period.”
“We’ve had a tough ride,” said Wagner, reflecting on farming over the past 10 years. “It’s good to have some recovery.”
Consumers should expect to see the effects of the rising costs the next time they pick up a steak at the grocery store.
“You definitely see a bit of an increase in pricing, especially from the big chain stores that are buying from feedlots,” said Corey Meyer, the owner of the ACME Meat Market. While he has been able to control the cost of beef at his store, he says consumers should expect to pay more.
“I know that prices are fluctuating and a little bit on the up scale,” he said. “It’s the way it is… Right now prices are going up, but in time they will come down.”
Until then, Meyer said he is happy to see local farmers doing well.
Back at the farm, Wagner is enjoying the current market but says you never know what lies ahead.
“There’s always a crisis around the corner but at the moment it’s good and the future looks bright.”