The nation’s ranchers slashed the U.S. cattle herd to its lowest level in decades. As a result, the U.S. is importing record amounts of beef this year and exporting much less.
The steep drop in cattle numbers has led to significantly higher beef prices. Reuters says those high prices make companies look to import cheaper beef and discourage American beef purchases by buyers like China, Japan, and Egypt. The USDA expects the U.S. to drop to fourth in the rankings for the largest beef and veal exporters, down from number two last year.
America’s beef exports are projected to sink 14 percent from 2022 to three billion pounds, the lowest level since COVID slowed meat processing and international trading in 2020. USDA expects American beef production to decline further in 2024 due to tight cattle supplies, and beef exports are forecast to hit an eight-year low of 2.8 billion pounds.