Ranchers Sort Out Livelihoods At Oklahoma State Fair

Monday, September 19th 2011, 6:34 pm
By: News 9

Jamie Oberg, News 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Record breaking drought conditions this summer are forcing area cattle farmers to sell their herds.

News 9 talked to farmers from across the state in Oklahoma City for the state fair to find out how they're going to get by and what it means for prices at the store for us.

Cowboys competing in the rancher's sorting competition at the Oklahoma state fair need to be tough and work as a team. Guys and gals on horseback have 60 seconds to get as many rambunctious calves from one pen to the next, and they have to go in numbered order. It's much harder than it sounds.

"It's just the way cowboys do things," Jones farmer, Dick Driskill said. Well the calves don't have numbers on their backs on his farm, but Driskill said the skills used in the competition are learned herding sick cattle.

The Oklahoma cowboy is proving to be tougher than most, because he has to be.

"I just got nine head left I'm living off what I sold," Driskill said.

Small talk in the stands amongst ranchers from all over Oklahoma sounds sadly similar.

"I've sold off about 25 percent of my cattle," Rancher Bill Entz said. He said he may have to sell more if he runs out of hay this winter.

When you come out to the fair, you expect to pay more your favorite foods with record drought conditions we asked OSU Livestock and Marketing Specialist Derrell Peel if we should expect to pay higher prices at home.

Overall Peel said beef supplies are down. With so many selling their herds he said consumers may not notice a rise in price right away, but he said eventually we will pay more.

"When prices get high, why a lot of people they say, ‘oh the farmers are getting rich,' that's just not true," Entz said. "We buy our groceries at the grocery store just like everybody else."

The competition is a much needed distraction for many who are still figuring out how to sort out their farms and feed the family. They will wait and see what the weather brings and in the meantime they are praying.

"The Lord is going to be there with us," Driskill said. "He won't let us suffer long."