Colorado Beef Producers Riding a Roller Coaster
The numbers are pretty dramatic and Colorado Beef producers have little choice but to ride out the difficult times in hopes that the roller coaster caused by the COVID-19 crisis will end soon.
The latest Cattle on Feed Report from the USDA shows feedlot placements
in March totaled about 1.6 million nationwide, down about 23% from March 2019.
Shawn Martini of the Colorado Farm Bureau says Colorado producers face so much uncertainty.
Martini: “ I would say disarray is a good way to put it. There are a lot of people who have cattle right now and are trying to develop rations to maintain weights until such time as they know when they are going to be able to market those cattle. There’s a lot of cow cattle producers who might have backgrounded their own calves over the winter that don’t know where they’re going to go. Of course the market across the country has major volatility and dislocation in it right now. Different buying patterns and shifting away from restaurant and institutional purchases and into about 90% or more of grocery and retail chains. It’s difficult for any market to navigate not least one that is dealing with a product that is perishable and is live and on the hoof so it's really a difficult time right now for sure.”
The inability of packers to harvest livestock and poultry in a timely way because of the virus doesn’t appear to have an easy solution. The JBS plant in Greeley has reopened but with virus related deaths, union officials are demanding universal testing which they say was promised but not delivered.