Easterday-Tyson saga shows counting 200K cattle isn’t easy, especially when they might not exist

 

By Anna King, Northwest News Network

via Oregon Public Broadcasting - Feb. 20, 2021

 

Just how do you miss 200,000 phantom cattle over several years? That’s what some people in the Columbia Basin cattle-feeding industry are wondering in an ongoing saga between Tyson Fresh Meats and Easterday Ranches.

 

“It’s hard to believe,” said Mike DeTray, who runs a 4,000-head operation outside of George, Washington.

 

An accurate count of cattle is essential to cracking the case of Easterday Ranches and Easterday Farms — two arms of the large Easterday family empire, which Tyson Fresh Meats has accused of inventing and feeding 200,000 cattle on paper. After Tyson filed suit seeking $225 million, Easterday filed for federal bankruptcy.

 

DeTray said it’s hard to hide cattle.

 

“There is no way Tyson should lose 200,000 head of cattle,” he said. “We’re a small operation — 4,000 animals. And the bank is here counting the cows once a year.”

 

Amber Itle, an assistant state veterinarian for the Washington State Department of Agriculture, said every day on a farm there are animals coming, leaving, calving and dying. So there is no way for regulators to know how many animals are on any one farm on any one day. It’s hard to track.

 

“When you are talking about 50,000 animals you can see how easy it would be to get lost in the paperwork,” Itle said. “We’re talking about a lot of animals moving. That’s a lot of record keeping.”

 

Rustling: An old tradition that hasn’t died ...

 

The ranch count ...

 

The Beef Commission count ... 

 

The doomed cattle count. (Hint: they’re not counted) ...

 

The state count ...

 

The brand inspection count ...

 

State Nutrient Management Program count ...

 

The feds’ count …

 

more, including links

https://www.opb.org/article/2021/02/20/easterday-tyson-washington-cattle-fraud-case-counting-cows/