I was just talking to a farmer who raises beef.
He buys in calves and raises them to slaughter weight. He sells them as freezer beef by hanging weight.
He said that the local butcher shops are scheduled out to mid-2022.
To give you a feel for how exceptional that is, a good cattleman can raise a calf to slaughter weight by the time it is 14 months old. A mediocre one will take 18 months.
That means that the butcher shops are taking appointments to slaughter cattle that will not be born for another 6-to-10 months. Since cattle have a gestation period of 9 months, you could say they are scheduling appointments for calves that are still a twinkle in the bull's eye.
The farmer had exactly half as many "slots" for slaughter as he had cattle that would be ready. Since his costs were higher these past 18 months due to a crappy hay harvest in 2019 and high calf prices this spring he is looking at having to charge $3.50 a pound hanging weight.
While that might sound cheap to somebody who eats only prime cuts of beef, you have to understand that a significant portion of that carcass is bone. Then there is the 3/8"-to-3/4" blanket of fat between the skin and the meat that prime beef carries.
The farmer said it was due to the "factory butchers" getting hammered with Covid. The market would have shipped many local beeves to them but now everybody is trying to jam what they have through local channels to get it to market.
If there is a point to this essay, it is that this might be a good year to butcher your own beef. If you have the time, a front-end loader or chain-fall, sharp knives and can follow directions in a book slaughter-ready cattle will be cheap and abundant while pan-ready beef will be dear.