Monday, April 28, 2008

What a Weekend

I've been busy doing some landscaping. I want to get my garden started by the end of the week. Unfortunately that means tearing up half of my yard and remodeling my dog's pen. Progress has been good. I've still got a lot of work to do, though. I've also got big plans for my truck. Then there are the camping trips that I have planned. Posts will probably be slowing down again. Sorry that I spoiled you with so many regular updates recently.

It's pretty obvious that the "rice shortage" is the big headline these days. There might be a shortage outside the US but the only problem that we've got here is panic buying and our JIT (just in time) inventory system showing it's weakness. People see that there are riots in Egypt and Haiti. They hear that other countries are discouraging or even halting their rice exports. So what do they do? They rush to the store and buy a few hundred pounds of rice that they wouldn't have eaten, anyway. The unexpected increased sales lead to empty shelves when people do this. That just feeds the panic once the media catches wind of it.

I'll admit that grain is getting expensive. Wheat has gone up a lot in the last year or two. Thanks to ethanol subsidies corn has become much more profitable which has lead to farmers planting more of that and less of other crops. The end result? Everything that farmers grow costs more. Except for far.

Sure meat costs more than it did ten years ago. The price has hardly increased at the same rate as grain, though. With grain getting more and more expensive a lot of farmers have been forced to thin their herds recently. Right now they're selling their beef and pork at fire sale prices. Screw rice. Buy beef and pork! Pork is ridiculously cheap right now. It's usually a dollar or two a pound. You can find awesome deals on beef, too. Ground beef still goes on sale for around $1 a pound. In a year when ground beef costs $8 a pound and ribeyes are going for $20 a pound you'll wish that you'd stocked up "back when it was cheap".

Fill the freezer guys. Getting a deep, chest style freezer wouldn't be a bad idea if you don't already have one. You can save a few bucks on meat in the grocery store today and you'll have a place to store all of the meat that you hunted when it's too expensive to buy later. If you've got a freezer full of meat when the grid goes down just make jerky out of it before it all goes bad. Refer to my jerky post if you don't know how to do it.

Meat is going to get expensive guys. If you've already got your other preps squared away then think about putting up some extra meat. It'll last a while if you freeze it. It'll last even longer if you dry it. No matter what you do, though, it won't last as long and it won't be as cheap as grain (even with the "ridiculous" prices that we're experiencing now). Don't lose sight of that. If you don't have a comfortable stash of beans, rice and wheat then get that before you go buying half a cow to put in your freezer.

5 comments: said...

It's getting harder for many to keep food on the table and could lead to a very scary situation when enough people become hungry.

Maintaining a one year supply of food is fast becoming common sense, when at one time the idea was laughed at.

Anonymous said...

Just a note,

The corn that gets turned into ethanol does not go to waste.

The sugars are extracted by the yeast to make the alcohol. There are still solids left after the process and these solids are sold 'distillers grain' very high in protein.

That is part of why meat is cheap right now; the by products of ethanol production is fattening the calves rather cheaply.

Chris in KY

The Urban Survivalist said...

Then please explain to me why farmers are selling off their cattle because they can't afford to feed them.

fallout11 said...

Former USDA employee here, so I'll answer this one.

Cattle and other livestock can only eat a modest amount of dried distillers grain, or they become very sick (and eventually die), in the same way that humans can only consume so much candy in their diet. For example, DDGs are high in sulfur content, which builds up and eventually poisons the animal.
USDA studies found that the optimal quantity was about 15% of total feed. More than that is detrimental.

Unfortunately, the ethanol industry is already producing far more DDG than US livestock can consume, and there is also the associated cost of re-transporting this 'waste product' to the end user. Priced diesel lately? So it is still a boondoggle.

fallout11 said...

It is the current sell-off of livestock (because farmers cannot afford to feed them) that is keeping meat prices low presently. A glut. Expect sharp price rises in the near future.