Ask industry experts and they’ll tell you the challenging economic conditions cattle producers are facing predate inflation, the pandemic and the trade war.
Todd Nash, President of the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association says their struggles started seven years ago. “When the cattle markets started the slide and started to fall back dramatically in 2015, we’ve never been able to capture that market share in the live cattle side of things. So, for our ranchers and producers, it’s been a tough time for a long-drawn-out period.”
While there are a host of issues that have made the last nearly decade challenging for livestock producers across Oregon, the biggest issue is due to the packers.
Nash noted in Oregon, cattle are either dedicated to the packers or they are in an alternative marketing agreement, meaning there is no negotiated trade. “So, the packers don’t have to come out into an open market and compete for those cattle. So, I think if there was a way to get packers back out actually competing for the cattle, having more packers out there, I think it would bode well for the rest of the industry.”
Nash says he is hopeful that something will change, not only at the state level because of efforts by the Oregon Department of Agriculture, but also because of investigations at the federal level.