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Alaska sees an ongoing increase in meat prices

Alaska sees an ongoing increase in meat prices
Published: Jan. 19, 2022 at 8:49 AM AKST
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PALMER, Alaska (KTUU) - The Alaska Department of Natural Resources is reporting that meat prices in Alaska are three times higher than they were two years ago, leaving Alaskans with a larger grocery bill.

“That affects families’ budget,” said David Schade, the director for the Alaska Division of Agriculture. “I don’t see anybody’s wages being triple what they were.”

The spike seen in meat prices, Schade said, is a result of a global problem. It comes down to three reasons: the weather, fuel costs and a supply shortage.

According to Schade, the Midwest and Argentina both last year faced a drought, which resulted in cattle dying off and a lack of hay being produced. This, he said, resulted in a shortage of supply.

Additionally, Schade said that an increase in fuel and corn prices was also playing an effect.

“You take all those factors and put that in, that puts the pressure on the United States on our cost of red meat,” Schade said.

According to Schade, this has been a problem the department has spent the last several years trying to fix. However, he said, fixing a supply chain issue in the agriculture world cannot be done overnight.

“When people have to butcher off a lot of their breeding stock, then they have to raise new stock and it takes that time to get into the cycle,” Schade said. “So, we’re looking at high input costs. We’re looking at a low inventory. It’s going to take a while before we work our way out of these prices.”

The department said that for red meat, it can take at least 18 months before the supply chain regulates again, and in some instances, it can take up to three years for things to adjust.

The department is hoping that with local efforts from the Nenana-Totchaket Agriculture project, more locally grown meat will be able to be produced. The project aims to build hundreds of thousands of acres for agriculture in the state, in addition to raising more animals, such as reindeer and yak.

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