GREAT FALLS — Meat prices across the board are skyrocketing due to recent inflation - specifically, prices of beef and chicken, but the value of sheep and goats' meat has been spiking since 2017. The market value of sheep is up nearly 77% while goat is 60% in recent years.
Hailee Hart of Hart Sheep Company in Cascade County says these are prices she’s never seen before.
“When I first started prices were low, for a calf you would get it was I think .60 cents a pounds, and it was tough,” says Hart. “But now, we get over $4 per pound.”
But why these sudden spikes? According to Hart it’s the rise and ethnic foods and COVID.
“When Covid hit, your things like beef and chicken were not on the shelves, you couldn’t get them unless you knew someone who would sell privately,” said Hart. “So people would gravitate towards things like goat and lamb and then they kind of were like, 'Wow, this is good.'”
So now that people are being introduced to different types of meat aside from chicken and beef the demand is rising.
She also credits it to the rise in ethnic foods: “We have a lot more ethnic foods and ethnicities than we used to, not just in Montana but in the United States as a whole.”
But just because the prices are skyrocketing doesn’t necessarily mean their profit is.
“It looks good on paper, when you look at your income, but then you take out your deductions and firewood and all your expenses it drops down drastically,” she noted.
Inflation this year, and a drought last year, being a rancher during these times is not for the faint of heart.
But for people like Hart, they couldn’t imagine their lives any other way: “Couldn’t imagine raising my kids and any other way, it’s just who we are, it's what we know.”
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