Experts say an uptick in drought and other extreme weather events has beef farmers within the U.S. and Canada thinning their herds in near-record numbers, which could lead on to provide problems in the meat industry over the long term.
They are saying that farmers will increasingly struggle with profitability amid the unpredictable seasons as climate change makes drought, flooding and wildfires more common.
Desmond Sobool, principal economist with Farm Credit Canada, says that for the past few years, dry conditions and droughts in each countries have prompted farmers to scale back their herd sizes by sending more cattle to slaughter, which has resulted in increased production of beef products.
Sobool says while this might normally drive cattle prices down, inflation and high demand mean prices are remaining elevated — and if there’s less supply in the long run, that may drive prices up further, which could affect consumer prices as well.
In accordance with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Farm Credit Canada, greater than two-thirds of the U.S. cattle herd is in an area affected by drought, resulting in the biggest contraction of the North American cattle herd in a decade.
Environment Canada says climate change has increased the likelihood of some varieties of extreme weather across the country, including wildfires and flooding, while drought soil moisture deficits within the Prairies and British Columbia are expected to develop into more frequent and intense as time progresses.
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