As one thrives, another seems to struggle: Cattle Fodder

Liz Twan's Cattle Fodder column on Cariboo forest fires and the beef industry.

The upcoming Victoria Day long-weekend heralds the start of the 2012 summer-vacation season and many British Columbians have hauled out (of storage) and cleaned up their camping and fishing gear in anticipation of heading off on their first outdoor get-a-way of the year.

B.C. ranchers are OK with that but want the pleasure-seekers to be aware that the Cariboo rangelands are in desperate need of moisture.

It’s really dry out there and ranchers live in fear of a repeat of the 2010 summer of wildfires.

The fires are all too- often ignited by human-error, so please recreate responsibly (douse campfires thoroughly/keep cigarette butts within your vehicle). Oh, and could you please remember to re-latch the gate after you pass through?

Something else to ponder, as one sector of the beef industry thrives (cattle producers) it appears another seems to struggle. Now, while cattle prices seem to have finally recovered or surpassed pre-BSE levels (paid to producers), the beef packing industry has been taking it on the chin, reporting losses instead of profits.

However, a recent report (meatingplace.com/Rita Jane Gabbett) suggests a turnaround in that sector as well.

“Beef packers (U.S.) made, on average, $6 per head (cattle) in the week ended — April 27, 2012 compared to a loss of about $45.74 per head a week-previous, and a loss of $96.48 a month ago as cattle prices have eased and both cutout and by-product values rose,” Gabbet says.

This past week the cost of choice steers was down a bit again (from a week prior), adding up to about a five cent drop per-hundred-weight over the past month, and since cattle sale prices trend the same, no matter where “the beef is,” our local cattle market reflected the decline.

At the BC Livestock Co-op cattle auction last Thursday in Williams Lake, the yearling-cattle on offer sold slightly down from the month-prior, leaving some producers moaning (a little) in hindsight!

Liz Twan is a local rancher and freelance columnist for the Tribune.