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Drop in cattle prices creates uncertain future for producers

Posted at 6:51 PM, Apr 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-08 19:51:12-04

DENISON, IA. (KMTV) — With so many people impacted by hard economic times, farmers are starting to feel the effects. Livestock farmers are losing money on cattle, and if the trend continues, some may lose their farm.

"Livestock farmers and the grain farmers are feeling probably as low as they've felt in the last 20 years," said Ervin Pauley Jr., President of Denison Livestock.

With ongoing trade issues, and demand for cattle down due to restaurants not being as busy thanks to coronavirus concerns, cattle farmers are taking a hit.

"When you take an animal that's worth $1,600, and in two weeks time it's worth $400-$500 less, that's a big hit," said Pauley Jr.

With that drop in price of what he says is 10-to-20% he's worried about the future of some cattle producers.

"There's a lot of people that feed 1,000 – 4,000 cattle and you take a $400 a head loss you get into the millions really fast, and that's bad losing that many millions of dollars," said Pauley Jr.

That's why some lawmakers are looking for help. Congressman Adrian Smith of Nebraska is pushing for the CARES Act, recently signed into law by President Trump, to provide some financial relief to those struggling farmers.

"Now we see an unprecedented economic event that we are still uncertain how long this will last, and that's why we need to be attentive and diligent along the way," said Smith.

Smith, along with members of Congress, wrote a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture asking for that financial assistance as quickly as possible.

Across the river, Denison Livestock will be holding an auction Thursday. Pauley Jr. hopes financial help, or normalcy, comes sooner rather than later for those facing an uncertain future.

"They better have a good banker, or they won't have a chance to stay in this business," said Pauley Jr.