Oklahoma lawmakers create task force to address issues affecting beef industry

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A pair of lawmakers is working to analyze problems affecting the beef industry.

Officials say Oklahoma ranchers are feeling the financial squeeze as production costs continue to climb.

Chapter 12 bankruptcies are up 24 percent over the last year. At the same time, the beef supply chain is facing challenges due to the closure of 75 percent of American feedlots and 48 packing plants.

Rep. Justin Humphrey and Sen. David Bullard have invited independent ranchers, meat buyers, meat processors, livestock auction owners and meat inspectors to convene and identify financial obstacles and structured solutions to help all Oklahoma farmers and ranchers.

“Four major meat packers, Tyson Foods, Cargill, JBS (Brazilian owned) and National Beef are controlling about 87 percent of beef processing and sales. They have considerable control over what ranchers are paid for cattle and what consumers pay for meat. The beef price is very low for ranchers and extremely high for consumers while meat packers are making millions of dollars. This is not acceptable,” said Rep. Humphrey.

“The future of our children, grandchildren and our western lifestyle are at risk. We appreciate Oklahoma legislators stepping up to help solve major problems which are impacting our economic well- being,” said Brad Hutchinson, president of the Oklahoma Independent Stock growers Association.

The task force will file a final report with the Oklahoma Senate and House Agriculture committees, Oklahoma Department of Agriculture and USDA. Ranchers with concerns outside of what is mentioned can call 580-371-6677 to express opinions.

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