Despite the havoc the wet spring and early summer has potentially created for area farmers who deal with row crops, the deluge of rain and the heat and humidity have had a negligible effect to date on the beef producers and livestock producers as a whole throughout Pettis County and much of the State of Missouri.
“The beef industry across the state is in a really good place right now,” Mike Deering, president of the Missouri Cattleman’s Association, told the Democrat by phone Wednesday morning. “While our prices are down a little, they are still extremely strong.
“In all honesty, the prices may be as good as they can be for a while,” Deering added. “The demand for beef is very high currently. Overall, I’d say we are in a very good place right now.”
Part of the reason for the high demand for beef is because of recent illnesses that have hit both the poultry and pork producers throughout Missouri and the United States.
In March, the state reported three cases of avian or bird flu: one in Lewis County and two cases at turkey farms in Jasper and nearby Moniteau County.
“We haven’t seen any outbreaks of the avian flu in recent weeks or months,” Tony Perryman, Poultry Superintendent for the Missouri State Fair, said by phone Thursday evening. “That’s all very positive for the poultry industry.”
As of today, the poultry show will still be a part of the Missouri State Fair, which begins Aug. 13 in Sedalia.
Perryman did say the Missouri State Fair would not allow out-of-state poultry entries to this year’s fair.
The Missouri Department of Agriculture made that decision after a meeting May 29.
“I can’t see if or when that decision may be rescinded,” Perryman added.
Pork producers throughout the state have also seen losses this year due to illnesses in their animals.
The pork industry recently has been faced with the PEDV — porcine epidemic diarrhea virus.
A U.S. Department of Agriculture report states that the disease has been reported in more than 25 states. Missouri has seen less than 100 reported cases of the disease.
David Dick is the supervisor for all livestock exhibits at the Missouri State Fair.
“We are expecting to once again have a successful showing at the Fair,” Dick said. “Despite the difficulties that both poultry producers and the pork industry have faced, we are good to go.”
Dick credits both the poultry and pork industries for being very mindful in how they have dealt with the recent illnesses.
“Both industries and individual producers have been very careful and mindful about protecting their animals and others if they have concerns about the health of their animals,” Dick said. “While there has been a shortage of poultry (both chicken and turkey) and eggs, there is an adequate supply of pork and beef.”
Dick, who is also the treasurer for the Missouri Cattleman’s Association, said recent higher-than-average amounts of rainfall have been difficult on all farmers and livestock producers, but in some respects, it has also benefited the industry.
“The regrowth on pasture is tremendous this year,” Dick said. “(The rains have) produced some of the highest quality pasture land we’ve seen in several years.”
The “hurricane rains,” as Dick calls them, that have plagued the area have made it very difficult to get into the fields to plant or work crops this season.
“Right now it’s been difficult to even get in the fields to cut hay or get anything planted,” Dick said. “A lot of people don’t think in terms of how heavy some of that equipment is. The potential damage that can be done to both (the machinery) and the property itself can be tremendous.
“For a lot of farmers, the past few years have been good, but it is a continual struggle to maintain what they have,” he added.
It is not only the elements in nature that Dick feels can be detrimental to farming. The current economic situation in the United States is another major factor.
“The last few years have been good for farming and livestock in general,” Dick said. “We’ve made good money, but a main concern is the value of that money that has been earned has less value as savings. The cost of most production inputs has risen significantly as well.
“I think we have to be cautiously optimistic that the next few years will improve for both the industry and consumers.”
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484