Beef Industry Hurting

Ryan Cody

NewsChannel 10

Wilderado, TX - 2009 was a tough year for many people's pocketbooks and that played a big role in what made it onto your dinner table. For years the beef industry has marketed with the phrase,'s what's for dinner. But in this lac-luster economy. Some local cattle farmers say that's no longer true in many homes.

Despite a dismal year in the national economy, agriculture continues to prosper here in the Texas panhandle. "Its encouraging that we've had a good year. And we're optimistic about 2010 from the agriculture side. Cattle, We still need some help with," says the President of Happy State Bank, Gary Wells.

In fact consumer demand for beef is down almost 3 percent from a year ago. And some local farmers have decided it makes more sense financially to let their cattle graze then to put them in the feed lots.

"I haven't had any cattle in the feed yard for over a year. I've chosen to stay out of that market. Until I see economic recovery and start seeing the consumer willing to pay more for food," says local Rancher Dale Artho.

That's because the grains given to cattle in the feed yard contain oils that make for more tender meat. And also produce higher end cuts. But it costs the rancher more money then letting their calves eat in the pasture. Artho says "Grass fed beef tend to be not as marbleized. Not as tender and not as flavorfull."

But since the consumer has less money to spend these days. Many of them are choosing to eat hamburgers over filet mignon.