Oklahoma cattle producers still in recovery mode


by Kimberly James, The Center Square

via The Kiowa County Press - Jun 3, 2021


(The Center Square) - The COVID-19 pandemic put Oklahoma cattle producers in an unprecedented bind, making it difficult for them to get products to market.


Dr. Derrell Peel, an agricultural economist at Oklahoma State University, said the pandemic-related shutdowns were the initial problem, but then grew to a bottleneck effect of demand.


"The initial closure of the foodservice sector caused beef product market disruptions and bottlenecks and essentially diverted half of beef demand from foodservice onto retail grocery, the other half of the total food sector," Peel told The Center Square. "A second wave added to these impacts when COVID-19 caused unprecedented disruptions in beef packing and processing and resulted in product shortages that lasted a few weeks."


Chancey Hanson, director of communications at Oklahoma Cattle Industry, said rising cattle prices and the beef supply chain slowing nationally were also contributions to the market disruption.


"Cattle price volatility, specifically within the live or fed cattle market, was a major challenge during the pandemic," Hanson told The Center Square. "As the national beef supply chain slowed and paused in some cases, this caused an oversupply of live cattle backing up the live portion of the chain. Since Oklahoma is a major source of feeder cattle, this market disruption was profound."


Now, cattle producers are facing different obstacles. Peel said challenges the industry is currently facing are widespread drought...