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Beef prices hit record high

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(WJLA) - Select grade beef has hit a record high this week. The weather has an impact, but that’s not all.

Meat shipments slowed down after the historic winter storm, prompting a surge in cattle prices. But there’s another problem behind the hike that will cost you. You may soon be turning to chicken or pork when you’re grocery shopping instead of paying the high price of beef.

Beef prices will increase by 2.5 to 3 percent this year, according to the USDA.

“For some peoples' diet it’s gonna be a pretty big chunk of change,” says George Lesznar of Harvey’s Market in D.C.

U.S. cattle cost more because of a rebound effect from several years of drought in major producing places like Texas, Nebraska, and Kansas. With the increased cost of feed some ranchers reduced their herds. The USDA called America’s cattle herd the smallest in 60 years. Large meat companies are paying record prices for cattle now, and that price will soon be passed along to the consumer.

“I’ll see what the prices are and if that means I have to cut back on the meats I eat,” says Amy Batchelor.

One growing alternative is buying locally-raised meats.

“I think you do better when you buy in bulk or come to the market,” says Charles McCollough, a shopper at Union Market.

Projections say beef prices will remain high for 2014 because replenishing cattle numbers isn’t a quick fix.

“It’s all in the calves. They have to raise the calves to get the meat and that takes time,” says Lesznar.

The next concern is rising beef prices driving up chicken and pork prices in the months to come.

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