The price of beef climbed to $5.96 a pound in April. The USDA’s 2014 food outlook report said beef was 11.1 percent more expensive this year than in April last year, even after adjusting for inflation. It’s a clear sign that years of drought in the Southern Great Plains have taken a toll. And the soaring prices come at a time when many ranchers are working to rebuild their herds, which in turn temporarily limits the number of animals. Retail prices for other foods could be impacted by the contraction in animal numbers.