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"Sorry" for the high price of beef -- but "Sorry" soon may not cut it

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They say “sorry” is the hardest word, but some grocery stores in small-town Minnesota have decided to deploy the “S” word as the best way to soothe sticker shock at the meat counter.

Supermarket Foods in Karlstad posted a sign this week in front of the ground beef. A bright red “SORRY” appears in all capital letters amid a sign that apologizes for the high price of hamburger. The sign goes on to explain:

“Due to the high cost of cattle feed and the reduction in the size of cattle herds, the price of hamburger and other beef products has risen sharply. On seen in the news on TV.”

A store employee told me:

"Call it a preemptive strike … no our customers haven’t been complaining to, but the price is high. I think people understand how the markets work. We just wanted to make a gesture.”

Good old ground beef is a mainstay on the average northern Minnesota table.And where would all those small-town “church suppers” be without dozens of hot dish creations lined up on folding tables in the church basement?

But with hamburger hovering in the $4.50/pound (and higher) territory, well, the times may be a-changing -- for good.

High beef prices right now are the result of the drought that ravaged the Midwest and other parts of the nation two years ago -- but also the current drought which is scorching the western United States right now.

The scarcity of feed as the result of the drought caused cattle producers to slaughter record numbers of their herds two years ago. The USDA says that the beef supply is at a 60-year low. Source

This means beef prices will probably remain high through 2014. It takes a minimum of two years to get more cows in the pipeline and fattened up for slaughter. But with continued drought on the West Coast -- and the effects of the tough winter -- it’s unlikely a boost in beef production can happen quickly, which means prices will remain elevated

If another significant drought hits the Midwest this summer, the effect on beef prices might become truly problematic -- perhaps even “shocking.”

Food Price Shock?

Is this just the beginning?

Many organization, such as Oxfam, are predicting a catastrophic rise in all food prices over the next 20 years. If the planet continues to warm, wide-scale crops failures resulting from both droughts and floods may push the price of corn higher by 500%.

Other organization, such as the World Bank, the United Nations and more have all concluded that the “era of cheap food is over.” Source

There is other significant competition for corn as well -- namely the ethanol industry, which by some estimates, is burning up about 40% of the current corn crop production in the United States. (See my story HERE)

If beef prices and all food prices continue to rise, many people may began to question the idea of dumping food into their gas tanks instead of their tummies.

Also, if another drought occurs in the Midwest in the coming summer, we can expect the price of beef, and all foods, to go even higher, and stay that way -- potentially forever.

See Also: A TERRIBLE IDEA

For stories of strange happenings in Minnesota, go here: MINNESOTA PARANORMALA

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