Despite record prices, cattle feeders still struggling to make money.
Drought in the Southern Plains wiped out winter grazing areas and pushed up placements in cattle feedlots in Nebraska by 15% in October.
Calves that normally would be in wheat pastures in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas are lining up in large numbers at Nebraska feedbunks for the winter at much lighter weights than normal.
And the long-term implications of the latest Cattle-on-Feed report look worrisome for meat producers, meatpackers and meat eaters.
There was no hemming and hawing from Jeff Stolle when he was asked about the likelihood of higher beef prices in food stores.
"Without a doubt," responded the Nebraska Cattlemen's vice president of marketing.
In the short term, Nebraska boosted its feedlot numbers even as the comparable national number dropped by 1%.