Judging from the prices at supermarkets and restaurants, this would appear to be a lucrative moment for cattle ranchers like Steve Charter.

America is consuming more beef than ever, while prices have climbed by one-fifth over the past year — a primary driver for the growing alarm over inflation.

But somewhere between American dinner plates and his 8,000-acre ranch on the high plains of Montana, Mr. Charter’s share of the $66 billion beef cattle industry has gone missing.

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