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Economy, It's on Your Mind

Written by Dennis Sun
        Not a day passes that I don’t think about potential topics for this column. I try to keep up to speed on current issues and find a topic that will hopefully interest you. If I’m not writing about a topic that interests you, I figure I’m probably not doing my job. These days there are two issues that are on everyone’s mind – the economy and the economy.
    This week the economy is driving all of our thoughts, from the cattle and grain prices to the cost of fuels. We’re happy if we sold calves last summer during peak prices, maybe wish we would have waited to buy winter feed, or are wondering if we should wait another month. It is the same old story, but the one story I really believe – no one actually knows what’s going to happen in the next six months or more. It could be a heck of a ride. Will living and doing business in Wyoming hurt or help us? We like the price of fuel going down, but has it gone down too fast? I’ve always believed that if a commodity price rises or falls too fast it can harm you in the long run.
    This morning I was checking the meat specials in the grocery flyers in the local newspaper. What I learned is what one would suspect for these times – chicken, pork and the lower cost cuts of beef made up the specials. I was surprised to see some ribeyes and T-bones, along with some higher cost seafood, as specials. I’ve read that the last two weeks have made most consumers price conscience.
    As for the national beef business, we’re hearing consumers are buying lower cost cuts and some are staying away from the high-end restaurants. But cattle numbers are down, as are imports from Canada and Mexico, which helps. Exports of U.S. beef have risen, but the worldwide economy has also slowed. There hasn’t been time for the reports to reflect that yet. On a positive note, the U.S. is also the only proven place worldwide to get a tender, flavorful steak or lambchop.
    Recently a market research company called NPD released its “23rd Annual Report on Eating Patterns in America.” The report takes a comprehensive look at America’s eating habits. Over the last year, with rising food costs, researchers found that we are eating at home more. We are, however, eating out more for breakfast. They also found that losing weight wasn’t as high on the priority list this past year, leaving the Atkins diet and others less popular. It went on to state that probiotics is the “new” health topic as concerns about trans fats fade. They also said winter is becoming a new grilling season.
    They must not have interviewed anyone from Wyoming on that last issue. I’m sorry, but I’m not going to risk frostbite to join a national trend. Have at it.
    Speaking of weather, the moisture last week was very welcome, but the snow amounts in some areas of the state really brought a halt to shipping. Not only the foot-plus of snow, but the terrible high winds sure shrunk up some calves and lambs that were about to be shipped to the auction barns or weighed at home. Some days are just better than others.
Dennis