Family farms and ranches across the country are grappling with low cattle prices and processing plants being forced to limit production due to the coronavirus, all while shoppers are paying more for meat at the supermarket.
“All of those things begin to have an effect on the price, and when they affect the price it begins to affect everyone's bottom line,” Pfeiffer Angus Farm owner John Pfeiffer said.
According to Oklahoma State Livestock Market Specialist Derrell Peel, prices for cattle ready to be slaughtered have fallen by 17% since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
“Those impacts are still growing at this point,” Peel said. “We are a really pronounced disruption in the flow of product.”
Pfeiffer's family has been farming and ranching near Mulhall since before statehood.
“My granddad farmed here for a lot of years, and he always believed that you need to do a lot of different things, and I've kind of adopted that philosophy too,” Pfeiffer said. "Because, he said not everything is going to be good on the same year.”
He’s hoping his diverse operation tempers the economic sting. They produce bulls, seed stock for other ranches, stocker cattle and commercial cows to be slaughtered.
“Diversify and survive,” he said.
One bright note during the coronavirus shutdown, Pfeiffer said he has had a lot more help on the ranch the past few weeks.
“With school out, I've had great-nephews that are here, so we're spending lots of time working on fences, checking cows and working cows,” Pfeiffer said. "We're probably more ahead with working cows and having cows ready to go than we've ever been.”
He said agriculture is cyclical in nature, and that you have to play the long game. After all, it takes more than two years to produce a beef cow from insemination to harvest.
“We have this thing in agriculture it will always be better tomorrow,” Pfeiffer said. “Sometimes, it's longer than tomorrow before it gets better, but it will eventually get better.”