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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Beef is big business in Oklahoma and our ranchers and producers have faced big hurdles recently.

However, many are feeling optimistic as the country slowly begins to emerge from the pandemic and we head into this grilling season.

At the Oklahoma National Stockyards, they say it’s been two years of highs and lows but they just keep pushing through.

“There’s been quite a few challenges the last few years; beginning in August of 2019, there was a plant fire in Holcomb, Kansas at one of the packing plants,” said Kelli Payne, Stockyards President. 

Payne says that set off some price disruption for a couple of months but the year ended in a huge winter run, making 2019 a success for sales

But then came 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving Oklahoma’s ranchers facing restaurant closures and more as the world paused.

“We kind of get through that and head into an ice storm and then, of course, we experienced great loss in the snowstorm of 2020,” Payne said. 

Of course, that was followed by another winter storm in 2021. 

“So it’s been quite a rollercoaster ride,” said Payne. 

According to a Texas A&M Agrilife Extension expert, as more people have received the vaccine and the nation has opened up, early spring saw high prices and historically high demand for beef heading into grilling season.

“We are just really hoping that things continue and these producers can put some money in their pocket as we move forward throughout 2021,” said Payne. 

Payne says if you want to help spur one of the state’s biggest businesses, the answer is simple.

“Always eat beef,” she said. “It’s the best protein in the world and Oklahoma farmers and ranchers do a really great job of growing the best product, probably across the United States.”

Payne says the moisture Oklahoma has received this spring has been good for the calf market and they hope to see the rain continue this summer.