Some 'beef relief' at Tulsa Stockyard's Monday auction

Monday, January 5th 2004, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Stockyards around Oklahoma held anxious auctions Monday, the first time cattle have been up for sale since the mad cow scare in Washington state.

Many feared prices would plummet. News on 6 business reporter Steve Berg has more.

After two weeks of worries, finally some beef relief. Joe Don Eaves with the Tulsa Stockyards:"I was very nervous about it, because cheap cattle's an unhappy customer, and we like to keep our customers happy."
And in fact, they are.

Ranchers thought prices might drop as much as 10 or 15%. But about the worst they've seen is 5%. "And not many cases five dollars lower, the good cattle to me looks like they're steady."

Rancher Gene Colburn: "They could be a lot cheaper. I've sold 'em a lot cheaper." While the prices are steady, the actual number of cows is down. The parking lot looks full here at the stockyards, but they say there's maybe a third as many cows that would be ordinarily, people still clearly worried about mad cow disease.

Eaves: "A lot of people y'know, they're a little nervous about bringing their cattle in, not knowing what the market was going to be." Some didn't slow down at all though. "I'm gonna sell these and then I'll bring some more in a few days. I want to get these out of the way now."

Eaves: "After what the market's been today. I expect to have a big run next week." And they hope mad cow will be a not-so-happy memory.

To give you an idea of what's at stake, Oklahoma is the nation's 5th-largest beef producer and it's a $2-billion industry in our state. So everybody has something at stake here. Fortunately, it looks like the industry will be okay.