SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WRSP) — People are breathing a sigh of relief after one of the world's largest beef producers was caught in a scandal.
Fox's Esther Kwon reports on what happened in Brazil, and why the United States won't see the anticipated spike in beef prices.
Over 20 meat producing companies in Brazil are being investigated after it was found that they were bribing safety inspectors to give them certificates for bad meat. That drove countries like China to look to the U.S. for beef imports. The Illinois Beef Association says anytime markets open and close like that on the global scale, it affects the local market.
Illinois Beef Association's Executive Vice President Reid Blossom said, "The prices for beef cattle in the United States - and in Illinois, particularly - have been surging stronger in the last couple of months, and there's no doubt that the Brazil story for a short time did have a role to play in that."
The U.S. exported more than $515 million worth of beef in the month of January. "Right now, there is some profitability on cattle farms in Illinois" said Blossom. "Over the last quarter of the year, the price forecast for cattle producers in Illinois has been much better." Those stable prices are being felt by local businesses, too.
"We sell a lot of beef, we sell a lot of steaks here," said Owner of Augie's Front Burner, August Mrozowski. "And generally right now, they're really a good price right now. I mean, I'm totally impressed. The best they've been in a long time."
Owner of Midstate Meats, Paul Donelan, said, "Meat prices have been holding steady for the past six months, you could say. I hope they don't go up, I just hope they don't - for the consumers."
The U.S. is working to increase its international beef exports, and some local consumers are worried the demand will raise costs here in the U.S.
"I'm always trying to figure out what to charge a consumer because you know, when we have a price of beef that goes up maybe even one or two dollars a pound, you feel that!" said Mrozowski.
However, the Illinois Beef Association says the effects will be felt by foreign consumers. "The impact on our domestic consumers will be negligible as demand increases because cattle farmers here in Illinois and around the country are expanding the supply, growing the herd of cattle in this country," Blossom explained.
The Illinois Beef Association says the best opportunities for growth on U.S. products are Japan, China and the European Union right now.
Members of the association are headed to Washington DC on Tuesday to work with lawmakers and President Donald Trump's administration on expanding international access to U.S. beef.