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Happy Labor Day! PLUS: Rancher Challenges & Beef Recipes

Labor Day weekend traditionally signifies the start of the school season and the end of the summer grilling season. Summer 2014 likely will be remembered as one with record-high cattle prices and ever-higher beef prices at the meat counter. Despite the cost, America’s love affair with beef continues; for cattlemen, however, that low supply and high demand come with their own set of issues.

“Calf prices are at historical highs. Cow prices are at historical highs, and so right now the value side of it is excellent. The problem is, we’re still running 30% less cows on the same amount of land that’s costing the same amount of money or more to run them, and so the cost side has escalated a lot more than most people think about. We’re all enamored with that high priced calf, but we really still have to control the cost side of our production, or we won’t be making any more money,” says Ron Gill, Texas A&M Agrilife professor and Extension livestock specialist, for

Gill predicts the Midwest will have a good year for corn production, so feed prices could be cheaper this year. Along with that, soybeans are going to be cheaper, as well as cottonseed oil and meal, which should lower the cost of supplementation.

However, fertilizer will still be a big cost for producers, Gill says.


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“The thing that’s still pretty high is our fertilizer, trying to get adequate growth out of our introduced grasses,” Gill says. “The other thing that’s starting to happen now, between grasshoppers and armyworms, we’re losing a lot of grass to those. They’re coming in and just taking the tops out of our grass.”

Gill certainly has a point, but we also shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth. Beef prices are high, and consumers still are clamoring for our product. Let’s keep the momentum going beyond summer grilling season. As we head into fall, we can start creating buzz about beef for things like tailgating, back-to-school, and fall comfort foods. has an excellent compilation of recipes that fit the bill.

Here are three recipe galleries worth tweeting about:

1. Tailgating

2. Kid Friendly

2. Fall Comfort Foods 

Plus, here are some recipes for the grill to add the “wow” factor to your Labor Day menu.

How did you spend Labor Day weekend? Share with us in the comments section below. And happy Labor Day from my family to yours!

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of or the Penton Farm Progress Group.


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