Legislator joins call for US Ag Secretary to be replaced

State Rep. Jim Grego, R-Wilburton praised U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin for his recent announcement that U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue, must go.

Grego echoed Congressman Mullin’s assertion that through all of this COVID-19 crisis and all the billions of dollars flowing out of Washington, D.C., zero dollars have made their way to cattlemen’s pockets.

Grego, a cow/calf producer from Latimer County, states he too feels the pain.

“Most cattlemen rely on yearly cattle sales to make annual payments on their operations,” Grego said. “A fire last August in Kansas has thrown the live cattle prices into a tailspin. While meat prices in our grocery stores have risen astronomically, when you add to uncertainty from the COVID-19 crisis on top off the original fire the end result is disastrous.”

Grego said he recently sold a load of steers, receiving approximately 75% of what he traditionally received.

“When your income takes a hit like this, but your payments at the bank continue as always, you’re in a bind,” Grego said. “Many sale barns have been forced to limit occupancy with many special cow sales having to be canceled for fear of this pandemic. That hurts our cattlemen and ranchers in this state and others.”

According to American Farmers and Ranchers, who track dollars returned to producers, 40 years ago the cattle producers’ share of retail dollars was approximately 50 cents of every retail dollar. This was returned to the producer. As of April of this year, that number was ten cents or less, Grego said.

“How can this be”? He asked.

He said it also should be noted that last year 2.2 million live cattle crossed the nation’s borders to be integrated with U.S. production to add to the nation’s overburdened processing facilities. To date, approximately half of a million head of cattle have entered this year.

Grego said many producers are unwilling to take the current market prices and are choosing to hold their cattle hoping for a better day.

“This is great if you can stand the financial stain,” he said, “but as a lifelong conservationist, the results from pasture overgrazing will have long-term effects for years to come.

“I realize replacing Secretary Perdue may not fix all the problems associated with this crisis, but as we have learned from the sports world, when you have a prolonged losing streak you usually start replacing personnel at the top first.”

Source: House of Representatives

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