Beef strong commodity, despite industry bumps

Sunday, August 8th 2004, 6:10 am
By: News On 6

ENID, Okla. (AP) -- Beef is a commodity product and those in the business should expect a few bumps in the road, said Derrell Peel, extension livestock and marketing specialist at Oklahoma State University's Department of Economics.

Animal health, political decisions and even terrorist threats could affect the beef business, but that probably won't affect the bottom line for ranchers.

"There's not many cattle out there. I don't expect a weakness in cattle prices for the next two or three years," Peel told a large audience gathered for the Wheatland Stocker Conference in Enid on Friday.

Isolated cases of mad cow disease, may be reported in the future, but U.S. Department of Agriculture officials have done effective work tracking cattle and preventing outbreaks, Peel said.

After a single case of an infected cow was reported in December, cattle prices dropped 15 percent but rebounded within a six-to-eight month period.

"How would the market react? We handled it very well and we could do it again. We've built firewalls to prevent outbreaks from happening," Peel said.

Informing the public of mad cow disease cases is important in maintaining trust between the beef industry and customers.

"Consumer creditability is easier to maintain than buy back," Peel said.