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ST. PAUL, Minn. – Beef prices are at an all-time high and it's the consumers and small businesses that are feeling the hit.

"I've never seen anything like this before," says meat manager Dan Breathwaite at Widmer's Supermarket in St. Paul. "We're trying to keep our prices competitive, but it's getting very difficult."

Big box grocers are seeing the beef spike, too, but they can buy in bulk and lock in prices, smaller grocers like Widmer's cannot. In the past few weeks alone, Breathwaite has seen an increase in 20 percent or more per pound in ground beef and chuck roast.

"We want to give our customers the best deal, but we still have to make money, too," he says.

The record highs are due to a wide variety of factors, but Jeff Reed with the Central Livestock Association believes it's the recent drought to blame.

"It's caused feed prices to go up, there's a shortage of grass for pasture land so lots of cows went to slaughter," said Reed. "We slaughtered the factory so to speak."

And that comes at a time where nationally, the cattle count is at a 50-year low.

"We will probably export a little less and import a little more to help keep beef affordable for the consumer," says Reed. "These are some of the highest prices we've seen."

Reed believes later this spring, prices may start to decrease.

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