April 18 - California's worst drought on record has meant less grass for cattle to graze on, driving up costs for beef. Deborah Gembara reports.
A severe drought in California has sent beef prices soaring and consumers, butchers and cattlemen are feeling the pinch. SOUNDBITE: Cattle rancher Bert Lamb saying: "It's supply and demand, there's just not as many cows." Too little rain means less grass for the animals to feed on -- forcing cattle ranchers like Bert Lamb to thin their herds while still paying more for things like hay. SOUNDBITE: Cattle rancher Bert Lamb saying: "We are buying a lot of hay, and the hay costs, because everybody is buying, the hay prices have gone through the roof. So what was last year $175 a ton of hay, is now $325." For customers like Marti Blumenthal, the higher prices for lean grass-fed steak might cause her to alter her diet. SOUNDBITE: Customer Marti Blumenthal saying: "Yes, for sure, we'd be eating a lot more hamburger, we'd be eating a lot more of the cheaper cuts, and cook them differently, marinate them so that we can go for the cheaper cuts." Prices for beef and poultry are forecast to rise as much as 4 percent this year. This is California's driest year on record.