(EL DORADO, Kan.) — New numbers show 63% of the U.S. is in some stage of drought. That makes this the worst drought the country has seen since the 1950s.
In Kansas, 90% of the top soil is short or very short of moisture.
Crops are drying up in the heat, and water supplies are low with the lack of rain. Both are forcing Kansas cattle ranchers to sell off their stock, which could impact your grocery bill.
More cattle are moving out of the El Dorado Livestock Action. 1500 head sold Thursday morning. Last week, it was nearly twice that amount.
"Your business is based on selling cattle, but you hate to have to sell somebody's cattle in a situation where they are being forced to sell," said Owner Chris Locke. "Nobody likes that."
Locke knows ranchers are facing tough times right now. Cattle prices are low and feed costs have sky rocketed due to dried up crops, like corn and milo. That pricy combination is causing some to sell off stock to avoid bigger losses.
"Its a gamble on a normal year," Locke said. "But the weather is the big key right now that no one can control or do anything about."
When more cattle are sold, it could have an impact on your grocery bill. With so much stock in the supply chain, beef prices are expected to go down in the short term
But eventually the smaller herds are expected to create higher cattle prices, which will trickle down to meat aisles by years end and beyond.
"We are going to see record beef prices it looks like for multiple years, setting new records at least through 2015,"
Rain may be the only way to bring relief to the situation, but Locke knows its too late for some producers
"It might not make a difference in the corn crop or the milo, but it would make everybody feel better," Locke said. "Everybody has to keep a good attitude, we don't have any choice."
In the meantime, Locke expects to see more cattle coming through his sale barn.
Its not just beef prices. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says consumers should expect a three to four percent hike in milk, eggs, poultry and pork prices next year. But the cost of fruits and vegetables aren't affected as much by the drought.Ranchers selling off cattle, beef prices impacted