Oklahoma Farm Bureau is grateful for the work of Oklahoma Secretary of Agriculture Blayne Arthur this week as she urged U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to provide relief for the state’s beef cattle producers.
In a letter, Arthur asked Perdue to direct resources from the recent Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act to the beef cattle industry amid the COVID-19 pandemic. She also encouraged support for a USDA investigation into to investigate the price disparity in cattle markets.
“Relief for cattle producers from the current economic crisis is imperative in order to keep beef operations of all types and sizes operational, as they do not qualify for the traditional safety net programs designed to keep other agriculture sectors in production under emergency circumstances like those we currently face,” Arthur wrote in the letter.
Livestock producers have been facing a struggling economy for several months which has only worsened throughout coronavirus outbreak. Many Oklahoma ranchers are concerned by the substantial gap between live cattle prices and retail beef prices, especially as demand for beef has increased in recent weeks.
“The substantial margins between the live cattle prices our ranchers receive and the retail prices consumers pay at the grocery store are a continuing source of concern and frustration for Oklahoma’s beef industry,” Arthur wrote. “A close look is necessary to determine if any manipulation, collusion or other illegal activity may be occurring.”
OKFB, along with 25 state Farm Bureau organizations, sent a similar letter to the USDA last week.