Price of Corn Impacts Beef Industry

By: Amelia Nahmias Email
By: Amelia Nahmias Email

ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, Va -- Storms were on the horizon on Wednesday afternoon. With this year's dry weather, this was something that a lot of farmers wanted to see.

Lynn Koontz owns a farm in Rockingham County. He primarily raises beef cattle, and their market price is dropping.

"The price is not going to be there like it has been,” said Koontz. “That's where the corn price is really going to hit us. It's not the fact that we use a whole lot of corn here, but the product that we got to sell depends on corn."

The price of corn has skyrocketed over the summer due to the drought in the Midwest. Because the price of feed is higher, cattle farmers out West cannot afford to pay as much for our local cows.

"It's bad enough to lose your grain and your labor, but when you flat out lose money on the animal itself, then it really gets in your pocket."

Normally Koontz could get about $800 for some of his calves, but those sized calves are only worth $600.

In the spring a lot of local farmers take out loans for the season. This year they are losing money instead of gaining it.

"With the price of cattle, we're talking a couple $100,000 loans, easy. Then you come up $30, $40, $50,000 short of what you borrowed, much less anything to live off of."

Koontz said things like this have happened before. He said you have to just deal with the hand you are given.

"We're just going to have to pinch, scrimp, and get by with what we've got the best we can, because it's too late to plant another corn crop."

Farmers have to decide whether they want to take the corn they have to the market and sell while its worth is up or keep it to feed their livestock. In the meantime, the price of cattle continues to drop.

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