Oklahoma City taco shop takes popular item off menu after continuing rise in beef prices

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – With the price of beef up 17 percent since this time last year, one Oklahoma City taco shop is being forced to take a popular item off their menu temporarily.

“It comes in waves. It’s just, it cuts into profits,” Ruben Pacheco, owner of The Fried Taco inside the Collective in downtown Oklahoma City, told KFOR.

Before the pandemic, Pacheco said he paid $2.89 per pound for brisket. he said it cost $3.89 last month, and right now it costs $4.69 per pound.

“Everything, not even just brisket, beef, like chicken, everything has doubled,” he said.

So, Pacheco made the tough decision to temporarily take their beloved brisket taco off the menu.

“We don’t want to do it. It’s literally one of the crowd favorites. It’s just something we felt would be better than charging more,” Pacheco said.

It’s an ongoing battle that Scott Blubaugh, President of the Oklahoma Farmer’s Union, said is not only affecting the consumer, but ranchers and farmers too.

“Why are we seeing those prices? We have plenty of cattle. We have plenty of hogs and chickens. It’s all about the consolidation and the bottleneck in processing and that market power that the big four processors in beef world have,” Blubaugh said.

That’s one reason why Blubaugh joined farmers and ranchers from all over the country for a virtual, roundtable discussion with President Joe Biden on Monday.

“The pound of beef today costs five bucks compared to less than four before the pandemic,” Biden said.

Biden is now allocating $1 billion in American Rescue Plan Act funds to help independent processing plants process beef locally; $300 million will go to them, $100 million will go toward training the meat and poultry workforce and another $100 million will help bolster the supply chain.

“What that’ll do is that’ll help the producer that wants to, to connect directly or more directly to those consumers and that provides more dollars to the producer; it provides more information to the consumer, etc.,” Michael Kelsey, Executive Vice President of the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association, told News 4.

Blubaugh said Oklahoma is already ahead of the game.

“Maybe leading the country. There was $10 million allocated in the first round of CARES money through our Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, that there was about 40 grant applications granted and we have 19 new processing plants that are online now in Oklahoma,” Blubaugh said.

The Fried Taco hopes to have their brisket taco back on the menu in the spring, in time for the grand opening of their new location in Edmond.

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