LUBBOCK, TX -- The latest Lubbock Economic Index shows that the price of cattle here is up by 18.8 percent from just a year ago. That means beef prices are higher than ever. The Texas Beef Council says prices statewide are the highest they've been in almost three decades, after adjustment for inflation.
Right now, an average pound of beef will cost you $5.28. The persistent drought is to blame, because no rain means smaller cattle herds nationwide.
Local steakhouses say they've been forced to do business differently, to keep costs manageable.
"I mean it certainly is noticeable," according to John Cagle, owner of Lubbock's Cagle Steaks. "The cost per serving has continued to climb up."
So, Cagle says they've had to start doing business a little differently.
"It seems like we provide more alternative main entrees to beef now, than we ever have before," he says. "Salmon, chicken, things like that."
They'e also resorted to buying their beef in bulk to help manage the cost.
"We've had to become much better at not only running our business, but also, buying good products, better,"Cagle says.
As the drought continues, and beef remains pricey, experts say many Americans are switching to alternative proteins. But cagle, is remaining cautiously optimistic.
"Beef is always going to be a mainstay in the American diet," he asserts. "There's going to be a continued support for that as staple product."
But, if prices stay at their current levels, just how long is that continued support sustainable?
"Yeah, I don't know," Cagle trails off. "It's just hard to say."