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Jul 24, 2012 7:45 AM by Kate Richards

Drought forcing ranchers to sell cattle

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Cattle are streaming into auctions across the country as ranchers sell animals amid a spreading drought that has shriveled pastures and driven up the price of feed corn.

Beef from those animals will start showing up in grocery stores in November and December, temporarily driving down meat prices. But prices are expected to rise sharply by January in the wake of dwindling supplies and smaller livestock herds.

The number of cattle has been dropping for years, but the pace picked up last year as Texas ranchers liquidated herds.

Experts say that while the drought in the Southern Plains last year was bad, the cattle industry nationally was able to absorb the impact. This year's drought is much wider, so the market implications are larger and more industry players are impacted.

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