In this file:
· Texas cattle ranchers strive to adapt to sudden economic impact caused by COVID-19
· ‘Cows will need bred’: Coronavirus is hitting the meat industry all the way up to animal breeders
Texas cattle ranchers strive to adapt to sudden economic impact caused by COVID-19
By Sarah Downey, The Center Square
KPVI (ID) - May 18, 2020
(The Center Square) – A new report estimates that agricultural losses in Texas could go as high as $8 billion due to the COVID-19 economic downturn.
The study, which was conducted by Texas A&M University, estimates that livestock and crop prices have fallen between 20 percent and 30 percent, and confirms what ranchers have seen since the pandemic’s spread, Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA) President Robert E. McKnight, said in an email response to The Center Square.
“The impact of the coronavirus pandemic has been and will continue to be the toughest challenge most of us have ever faced," McKnight said. "Market volatility this dramatic affects ranches of all sizes and types. Whether you have 50 head of cattle or 5,000, no one is immune.”
With close to 250,000 farms and ranches in Texas, falling prices and market uncertainty present a major challenge to the livelihoods of millions of residents.
“The Texas cattle industry is valued at $12.3 billion and represents more than half of the state’s total agricultural worth," McKnight said. "There’s no doubt the effects of the pandemic on the cattle market will significantly impact the state’s economy, but it may be years before we know to what extent.”
Texas lawmakers have been advocating for more agriculture industry funding in the next phase of federal coronavirus relief.
“No matter what’s going on in the world, we’re still ranching. The cows don’t watch the news, and they still depend on us. Ranchers are committed to caring for their animals and families, the employees who process beef and consumers, just as we have for generations, McKnight said...
‘Cows will need bred’: Coronavirus is hitting the meat industry all the way up to animal breeders
Alfred Miller, Louisville Courier Journal
via USA Today - May 17, 2020
SMITHS GROVE, Ky. – Kentucky cattle farmer Joe Lowe would normally drive potential bull buyers to his pastures in his own truck, perhaps suggesting lunch afterward to talk business.
Buyers now ride separately, if they come at all. Others simply phone in their orders.
“Everybody’s just a little on edge, no matter what industry you’re in,” Lowe says.
With meat plants shutting down across the nation because of growing COVID-19 infections among workers, the ripple effect is being felt all the way up the food supply chain, with some farmers delaying the purchase of bulls for breeding – something that could affect the food supply in years to come.
Kentucky produces more cattle annually – 1,000,000 head – than any state east of the Mississippi River. And farmers here take their bull purchases very seriously.
Lowe should know. His family has been raising cattle near western Kentucky’s Barren River since 1799, when Kentucky was still the frontier.
These days, they breed Angus cattle. From a herd of about 400, they sell about 100 Angus bulls, among the most of any farm in the state. Farmers buy the Lowes’ bulls and heifers to breed with their other animals before eventually selling the resulting calves to be fattened for slaughter.
In other words, the Lowes’ animals sit at the apex of the meat supply chain. Just as there’s no meat in grocery stores without slaughterhouses, there are no calves to enter the supply chain without bulls.
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