Drovers recently received an inquiry from a college student conducting research for a public-health class project. She sent a list of questions regarding the relative merits of finishing cattle on grass versus grain-based rations. Her questions, while somewhat biased, reflect common misperceptions of grain feeing and the kinds of question consumers are asking. For that reason, we have adapted the questions and answers into this article, to serve as possible “talking points” for our readers as you encounter similar questions from the public.
We’ve been posting the 13 questions, along with our answers, over the last couple weeks. Here is question 12:
How do you think corn affects the price of cattle? Do you think this is having a greater impact on the health of Americans?
Because grain finishing improves production efficiency, it helps keep the price of beef competitive with other meats. This is positive for the health of Americans, who have access to affordable, nutrient-dense food.
For example, a March 8 price check with Omaha Steaks, a leading online retailer of premium meat products, shows a package of four nine-ounce grass-fed New York Strip steaks on sale for $89 (The regular price is $179.99.) Using the sale price, that is $22.25 per steak. For comparison a package of four nine-ounce conventional New York Strip steaks on the same site sells for $59.99, or $15 per steak.
The Omaha Steaks site also lists a package of four six-ounce, grass-fed hamburger patties for a sale price of $24.99. The regular price is $45.99. At the sale price, each grass-fed burger costs $6.25. For comparison, a package of eight five-ounce conventional burgers is sale priced at $19.99, or $2.50 per burger. The site lists the normal price for the same package of conventional burgers at $34.99, or $4.37 per burger, compared with $11.50 per burger for the grass-fed burgers at their usual full price of $45.99 for four six-ounce patties.
See question 11 from this series here.