BURNET COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) - Burnet butcher Robert Lang was buying New York strip steak for $4 three years ago. Now, it costs him more than $8. Yet, he has not changed his prices because customers aren't willing to pay more.
"All my profit just goes down the tube," said Lang.
Lang owns and operates Hill Country Fine Meats in Marble Falls and he likely will continue having a hard time making ends meet for the next few years as the price of beef is expected to climb by another 10 percent this year. The increase could be even greater if demand from other countries increases.
To save money, Lang is strapping down and works alone.
"I try to work more. I cut back on other things. I have not had a day off in two years," he said.
One thing Lang won't do is lower the grade of the meat he buys because he competes with local supermarkets. He feels if he downgrades, customers also won't come back to buy their beef from him.
High transportation costs and a smaller herd are the prime reasons why prices are going up.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports the U.S. herd had declined to 90.8 million cattle, 2 percent less than the previous year and the lowest inventory since 1952, when there were 88.1 million.
Drought and wildfires took its toll on Texas cattle. With rising costs of feed and hay going up in smoke, ranchers sold cattle in bulk in Mason County this past July- -it was the largest cattle auction on record in the county .
Turning to chicken or even seafood isn't costing folks fewer bucks.
Poultry prices are rising due to costs incurred to import them to the area. Lang explains their is a growing need for corn to make ethanol amid high feed costs.
Lang is depending on customers like Tina Jones to stay afloat.
Jones and her husband are empty-nesters.
"I am at an age where I am going to eat what I want," explained Jones.
She spent more than $100 on one piece of meat for a dinner party.
Of course, any scraps will be saves and used in leftovers.
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