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Local expert explains meatpacking industry concerns

Updated: May. 26, 2021 at 6:26 PM CDT
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DURANT, Okla. (KXII) - Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt released a letter last week about his concerns in the meatpacking industry. A local expert in the beef supply chain explains those concerns and what they hope to see change.

If you’re headed to the grocery store this memorial day weekend, expect to pay more at the meat counter.

“We’ve let it go on for too long, and now we’re at the point now, it’s become a huge problem,” said Jeff Hazaleus, owner of Durant Stockyards.

Hazaleus said market manipulation by meatpackers has gone on for a while, but has become more clear this past year.

“Last year during the COVID, they slowed the kill speed 100,000 head per week. You put that in perspective, you’re talking about 100,000, 1,400-pound steers less a week that they killed because they can so that they can shorten up the supply at the grocery store so that you have to give more for the meat when you get there,” said Hazaleus.

He said 60% of the meatpacking industry is run by 3 major U.S. companies.

The value of beef averages between $1.18 and $1.24 per pound, but consumers are paying well over $4.00 a pound at the grocery store. He said packers are manipulating that price and are the only ones profiting.

“The cattle that they’re killing right now are making roughly a little over $700 a head. And they’re owning them for 12 hours. Where we have producers who are raising an animal for a year, and at best they’re breaking even right now,” said Hazaleus.

Hazaleus said letters like the one Governor Kevin Stitt sent to Attorney General Merrick Garland are being sent by other big beef industry states.

“You have enough grassroots cattle organizations that are getting behind these movements. Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, Nebraska, those kind of states, when they draft these letters and they send them in to try to get results, it’s gonna make a big difference,” said Hazaleus.

In his letter Governor Stitt defends the agriculture industry, standing up for local farmers and ranchers.

In his letter Governor Stitt defends the agriculture industry, standing up for local farmers...
In his letter Governor Stitt defends the agriculture industry, standing up for local farmers and ranchers.(KXII)

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