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The Meat Crisis Is Here: Price Of Shrimp Up 61% – 7 Million Pigs Dead – Beef At All-Time High

The Meat Crisis Is Here: Price Of Shrimp Up 61% – 7 Million Pigs Dead – Beef At All-Time High thumbnail

As the price of meat continues to skyrocket, will it soon be considered a “luxury item” for most American families?  This week we learned that the price of meat in the United States rose at the fastest pace in more than 10 years last month.

Image: Beef (Wiki Commons).

Leading the way is the price of shrimp.  According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the price of shrimp has jumped an astounding 61 percent compared to a year ago.  The price of pork is also moving upward aggressively thanks to a disease which has already killed about 10 percent of all of the pigs in the entire country.  And the endless drought in the western half of the country has caused the size of the U.S. cattle herd to shrink to a 63 year low and has pushed the price of beef to an all-time high.  This is really bad news if you like to eat meat.  The truth is that the coming “meat crisis” is already here, and it looks like it is going to get a lot worse in the months ahead.

A devastating bacterial disease called “early mortality syndrome” is crippling the shrimping industry all over Asia right now.  According to Bloomberg, this has pushed the price of shrimp up 61 percent over the past 12 months…

In March, shrimp prices jumped 61 percent from a year earlier, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The climb is mainly due to a bacterial disease known as early mortality syndrome. While the ailment has no effect on humans, it’s wreaking havoc on young shrimp farmed in Southeast Asia, shrinking supplies.

This disease has an extremely high mortality rate.  In fact, according to the article that I just quoted, it kills approximately nine out of every ten shrimp that it infects…

Cases of early mortality syndrome, which destroys the digestive systems of young shrimp, were first reported in China in 2009, said Donald Lightner, a professor of animal and comparative biomedical sciences at University of Arizona in Tucson.

The disease, which kills about 90 percent of the shrimp it infects, traveled from China to Vietnam to Malaysia and then to Thailand, he said. Cases also were reported in Mexico last year, Lightner said.

A different disease is driving up the price of pork in the United States.  It is known as the porcine epidemic diarrhea virus, and in less than a year it has spread to 30 states and has killed approximately 7 million pigs.

The price of bacon is already up 13.1 percent over the past year, but this is just the beginning.

It is being projected that U.S. pork production could be down by as much as 10 percent this year, and Americans could end up paying up to 20 percent more for pork by the end of 2014.

The price of beef has also moved to unprecedented heights.  Thanks to the crippling drought that never seems to end in the western half of the nation, the size of the U.S. cattle herd has been declining for seven years in a row, and it is now the smallest that is has been since 1951.

Over the past year, the price of ground chuck beef is up 5.9 percent.  It would have been worse, but ranchers have been slaughtering lots of cattle in order to thin their herds in a desperate attempt to get through this drought.  If this drought does not end soon, the price of beef is going to go much, much higher.

As prices for shrimp, pork and beef have risen, many consumers have been eating more chicken.  But the price of chicken is rising rapidly as well.

In fact, the price of chicken breast is up 12.4 percent over the past 12 months.

Unfortunately, this could just be the very beginning of this meat crisis.  As I wrote about recently, some scientists are warning that we could potentially be facing “a century-long megadrought“.

And right now, there are no signs that the drought out west is letting up.  Just check out the map posted below.  It comes from the U.S. Drought Monitor, and it shows how the drought in California has significantly intensified since the beginning of the year…

California Drought 2014

And considering how much the rest of the nation relies on the agricultural production coming out of California, it is very alarming to see that the drought is getting even worse.

Right now, things are so bone dry in most of the state that it is easy for wildfires to get out of control.  In fact, Governor Jerry Brown has just declared a state of emergency in San Diego County because of the vicious wildfires that are raging there…

Officials ordered another round of evacuations early Thursday north of San Diego as gusty winds and near 100-degree temperatures offer little relief from at least nine fires that have consumed a 14-square mile area of Southern California.

Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency for San Diego County, which frees up special resources and funding for the firefight.

The fires, coming earlier than normal in the wildfire season, are being fed by brush and trees left brittle by prolonged drought. They are also being whipped by a Santa Ana wind system that reverses the normal flow of wind from the Pacific Ocean and creates tinderbox fire conditions.

For the first time in its 14-year-history, the U.S. Drought Monitor, a federal website that tracks drought, designated the entire state of California as in a severe (or worse) drought.

If you do not live out west, you may have no idea how very serious this all really is.

For years, I have been warning about the potential for dust bowl conditions to return to the western half of the country.

Now it is actually starting to happen.

And we already have tens of millions of people in this country that are struggling to feed themselves.  If you doubt this, please see my previous article entitled “Epidemic Of Hunger: New Report Says 49 Million Americans Are Dealing With Food Insecurity“.

So what happens if drought, diseases and plagues continue to cause food production in this country to plummet?

Those that have studied these things tell us that there is a clear correlation between food prices and civil unrest.  For example, the following is a short excerpt from a recent Scientific American article

Since the beginning of 2014, riots have occurred in countries including Thailand and Venezuela. Although they’re different cultures on different continents, these mass protests movements may all have one commonality; increasing food prices may have contributed to their occurrence. The cost of food has been steadily increasing in both Thailand and Venezuela; last month demonstrators in Caracas took to the streets marching with empty pots to protest food shortages. According to Dr. Yaneer Bar-Yam and fellow researchers at the New England Complex Systems Institute (NECSI), events such as these may be anticipated by a mathematical model that examines rising food costs.

The events of 2014 aren’t without precedent; the price of food has provoked (and placated) throughout history, beginning in Imperial Rome when Augustus introduced grain subsidies. In recent years, the Middle East has been particularly affected by the cost of grain. Centuries after Egypt developed bread as we recognize it, the nation experienced a bread intifada – the country rioted for two days in January 1977 following Anwar Sadat’s decision to drastically decrease food subsidies. More recently, under the rule of Hosni Mubarak, the price of grain rose 30 percent between 2010 and 2011. Then, on January 25, 2011 a new revolution began in Egypt.

Could rapidly rising food prices cause civil unrest in the United States eventually?

It won’t happen today, and it won’t happen tomorrow, but some day it might.

Meanwhile, you might want to start carving out a significantly larger portion of the family budget for food for the foreseeable future.

Economic Collapse

20 Comments on "The Meat Crisis Is Here: Price Of Shrimp Up 61% – 7 Million Pigs Dead – Beef At All-Time High"

  1. bobinget on Fri, 16th May 2014 8:56 am 

    Climate Change, warming ocean waters, drought,
    weather extreme events.
    Too Few make the connection.

    Drought is doubtless the most destructive weather related disaster of all. The face of drought in Africa is famine. In Australia yesterday, California today it’s fire.

    Some ranchers, farmers in Jackson County Southern Oregon where we farm will get irrigation water fewer then five weeks.
    In too many cases unless we get unseasonable rains
    ranchers will lose their homes and land in spite of super high meat prices.

    It’s one thing to drip irrigate a garden, quite another to
    moisten a few hundred acres for free range cattle.

    The key word here is “Change”. Fact is we could get
    off season rain when in more ‘normal times we might never.

  2. Davey on Fri, 16th May 2014 9:17 am 

    Bob, it has been a crazy cold spring here in ozarks of Mo last night frost and again tonight. I am steuing with the garden. Yet, the pasture around here is primo. What until the El Niño drought hits us

  3. Plantagenet on Fri, 16th May 2014 10:29 am 

    Don’t worry. The Obama administration claims that inflation is low. In fact, the FED has as one their goals INCREASING inflation in the US.

    Go figure.

  4. Mike999 on Fri, 16th May 2014 11:48 am 

    Planta, why don’t you learn something.

    The point of the article is CLIMATE CHANGE is going to increase food prices, not the “Obama Administration”.

    Blame the Dumbasses you vote for.
    You Repubs aren’t smart enough to run government.

  5. GregT on Fri, 16th May 2014 11:52 am 

    It’s a debt trap Plant.

    The Fed can’t raise interest rates without causing further harm to an already crumbling economy. The Fed can’t lower interest rates to stimulate borrowing, because the rates are already at rock bottom. The only options to be able to continue to service the massive debt load, are to cut government spending, raise taxes, or monetary inflation. Further government cutbacks, and increasing taxes are not popular. Inflation is a hidden tax, that most people can’t seem to understand, and is therefore the most comfortable option. The problem is, without a continued decrease in government spending, and ever increasing taxation, inflation will need to continue to grow exponentially, in order to service debt.

    That is the nature of the beast, when governments spend beyond the people’s means.

  6. GregT on Fri, 16th May 2014 12:03 pm 

    The historical average temperature for Vancouver BC on May the 15th, is 15.4 degrees C. Yesterday it was 27 degrees, or 80 degrees F. Last summer was the hottest and driest on record for much of British Columbia. All time record high temperatures were smashed by as much as 15 degrees celsius.

    According to many forecasters, this summer the drought is expected to intensify. The general public thinks this is a wonderful thing. At what point will people start to wake up?

  7. Northwest Resident on Fri, 16th May 2014 12:41 pm 

    Mike999 — I think you’ve got the guy with the cool spinning icon figured out. I consider him Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck’s personal representative to the peak oil discussion. He is here to blame everything on Obama, and doesn’t seem to realize or care how absolutely foolish that makes him look. Facts don’t matter. He gets most other things wrong too, and doesn’t seem to do very well at logically interpreting data. Obviously not the sharpest pencil in the box…

  8. Dave Thompson on Fri, 16th May 2014 12:44 pm 

    We are getting lots of rain now and snow over the winter in Chicagoland. It has been cold here to in the 40’s the past week. I am planting many things for my garden it is lots of work. We just have no idea here in the USA what it is like to survive by your back. I have been collecting rain water to use also in my garden and washing clothes even on good rain days. Man that water is heavy.

  9. Plantagenet on Fri, 16th May 2014 2:35 pm 

    Hi Mike999

    Look out! Your potty mouth just overflowed right onto your keyboard. Some of it even got into your post. Please flush your potty mouth immediately before it happens again!!


    PS: When the FED and our dull-witted White House staff have the stated policy of INTENTIONALLY trying to increase inflation, at the same time that climate change and peak oil will inevitably produce inflation, then guess what happens. WE HAVE A LOT OF INFLATION!

    No doubt droughts in California and Texas are playing a role, but just last month Obama travelled to California and played numerous rounds of golf on beautiful private California golf courses in the middle of the desert complete with lush green fairways and numerous water hazards. As long as California chooses to use its water to keep private playgrounds for Obama and the 1% well-watered, then they aren’t doing all they can themselves to redistribute water to alleviate the drought.

    Farms should come before golf courses.

  10. J-Gav on Fri, 16th May 2014 3:28 pm 

    Brief note on inflation – We don’t have a lot of it compared to many countries, but it is more than the official numbers say. More importantly, it is right where it will hurt poor families the most: food, transportation and housing (both rental and first-buyers).

  11. J-Gav on Fri, 16th May 2014 3:43 pm 

    Plant – You obviously aren’t a complete dolt (“Farms should come before golf courses” is something I’ve been saying for years). But you don’t have much of a handle on how American politics actually works. I don’t despair that someday you may get the fact that Reps/Dems are two sides of the same coin (Republicans have always played golf at least as often as Democrats – including Eisenhower!) The sponsors, lobbyists and paymasters who jerk their chains remain the same, varying slightly in degree depending on circumstances and candidate cred (McCain/Palin? I mean gimme an F-ing break!) What is urgently needed, just to continue with a veneer of democratic functioning in the country, is a third party! That’s probably why it won’t happen … TPTB don’t want real participatory democracy in the U.S. – they only want to spout banalities about instoring it in distant foreign countries – even as they remove the elected leaders in those same countries…

  12. GregT on Fri, 16th May 2014 4:35 pm 


    Sadly, I don’t think that a third party would make much difference, the fat always floats to the top.

    The word inflation means different things to different people. Some refer to the cost of living as inflation, monetary inflation is an entirely different thing. Expanding the supply of money, has the effect of decreasing the value of every monetary unit. It is a planned policy. When the Fed sets inflation at 2 percent, they are in effect taxing 2% off of every dollar in the system. Individual items are still effected by market forces, like supply and demand, or energy costs.

  13. GregT on Fri, 16th May 2014 4:45 pm 

    “If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks…will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered…. The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs.” – Thomas Jefferson in the debate over the Re-charter of the Bank Bill (1809)

  14. Plantagenet on Fri, 16th May 2014 5:11 pm 

    3Gav – You obviously aren’t a complete dolt (“Reps/Dems are two sides of the same coin ” is something I’ve been saying for years). But you don’t have much of a handle on how American politics actually works. Perhaps someday you may get the fact that criticizing Dems doesn’t mean you are supporting Reps. Maybe someday you will figure out that Eisenhower was president 60 years ago, and the president who is playing golf all the time time now is Obama.

  15. GregT on Fri, 16th May 2014 5:31 pm 

    I wonder who runs the country when the President is playing golf all of the time? I’m guessing the same people that run the country when he is not playing golf?


    Even the President’s speeches are written for him. He only does what he is told to do, if he goes off of his leash, there will be repercussions. Politics is not much more than theatre. As was pointed out in his run up to office, Obama’s greatest accomplishment, was that he was a great orator. He is good at delivering the message, but it isn’t his message that he is delivering.

  16. Plantagenet on Fri, 16th May 2014 5:43 pm 

    GregT —Good points.

    I agree completely.

  17. Makati1 on Fri, 16th May 2014 8:47 pm 

    Perhaps it is time for the meat eaters to be restrained. Prices can do that easily as paychecks are also shrinking along with meat supplies. After all, the 1 billion+ meat cattle in the world consume the grains that would feed ~3 billion humans.

    As for shrimp and fish, the oceans are dying. So will the seafood at any price.
    Wait until the fruits and veggies start to decline also. Then the grains like wheat, rice and corn.

    No one to blame but ourselves.

  18. GregT on Sat, 17th May 2014 1:46 am 

    We studied the population explosion back in the seventies. It was very well understood back then, as to the challenges that we would be facing now. Our saving grace? The vast untouched resources, and food, that would come from the world’s oceans. Enough to supply humanity for at least another hundred years.

    Boy were we ever wrong.

  19. Beery on Sat, 17th May 2014 4:01 am 

    All I can say is that that photo makes me glad I don’t eat beef anymore. I mean, that meat looks like crap.

  20. Davy, Hermann, MO on Sat, 17th May 2014 6:13 am 

    Beer, meat raised and eaten properly is a delight. I eat lots of veggies, grains, and fruit but I need some meat. I don’t feel right without it a few times a week. I admit you are right about Walmart meat with little taste and tough as leather.

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