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Record pork, beef prices

Pork and beef retail prices are setting records amid tighter supplies.

The average price for beef climbed in March to $5.40 per pound, a 23 percent increase compared to the 2010-2012 average, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation. It was the sixth straight month of new record retail prices.

For pork, the average retail price reached $3.83 a pound. That was higher than the prior four months and eclipsed a record level set last fall.

"Farmers and ranchers are raising smaller numbers of hogs and cattle," said John Anderson, the federation's deputy chief economist. "This is the key factor contributing to higher retail meat prices, a trend that is likely to continue through the summer and, at least for beef, into next year."

Back-to-back droughts in 2011 and 2012 resulted in less feed available for cattle, and ultimately forced a significant drop in the size of U.S. herds. The federation noted that the USDA has reported that year-to-date beef production has declined nearly 5 percent.

(Compiled by Robert Digitale. Submit items to robert.digitale@pressdemocrat.com.)

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