By SAMANTHA TIPLER
H&N Staff Reporter
July 19, 2012
H&N photo by Alex Powers Cows stand on a pasture off of East Langell Valley Road near its intersection with Bunn Way. Much of the irrigation on the east side of the valley is for hay or pastureland
Consumers paying more at the market for beef could mean profits for cattle ranchers and reverberations throughout the Klamath County economy.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture said beef prices increased 10 percent in 2011. In 2012, prices are expected to increase another 4 or 5 percent —higher than the overall increase in grocery prices.
Beef and dairy sales account for about half the agriculture receipts in Klamath County, said Jason Chapman, former president of the Klamath County Cattlemen’s Association and a Poe Valley rancher.
“If we give cattle producers a little extra money in their pocket, they go out and upgrade facilities and equipment,” Chapman said. “Any time the agriculture community does good, Klamath Falls and Klamath County does good. We go and buy a new pickup and buy a new tractor.”
But Chapman said ranchers will be watching their books to decide when and if to go buy that new pickup.
While beef prices might be high, so are input costs.
“When we see higher-than-average cattle prices, we also see higher prices for commodities we’re putting into the cattle,” he said. “Cattle is at an all-time high; everything else is at an all-time high to produce that animal as well.”
When things balance out is when the dollars might start to circulate to the local economy.
“We always wait and see,” Chapman said.
A big part of his job as a rancher is knowing the business aspects, not just the hard work of raising cattle.
“You’ve got to know the markets, know the input costs,” he said. “A 1 percent change in input costs could make a pretty big difference on your profit margin.”
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