Beef prices are expected to increase as much as 10% by summer, leading beef producers and sellers to worry that their product might become a luxury.
Retail beef prices have risen by an average of $1 per pound since 2007. Prices for cattle have jumped by as much as 25% in the past two years as the nation's herd dropped to its lowest level in six decades while foreign export demand boomed.
"The cattle producers are caught between a rock and a hard place," Sweeney said. "The price of corn is high, so cattle producers can't afford to keep as many animals. So you have fewer animals and high demand, and that creates high prices."
Corn prices have averaged $7 per bushel in the past 12 months.
Wages for working people haven't kept up enough, so they can't afford good beef cuts.
Signs of weakening demand for beef have shown up in recent weeks.
Beef's rivals in the protein business, pork and poultry, can reproduce and grow their animal herds much faster so attractive prices mean that the competition for the protein dollar has become fierce.
Chicken prices have reached record levels. But are still cheaper than beef.
How has this affected you? Are you stocking up on beef and freezing it, or using more chicken or what?