President's meat purchase plan leaves out beef - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

President's meat purchase plan leaves out beef

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HOLSTEIN, IOWA (KTIV) -

The president's plan to buy up 170-million dollars worth of fish and meat may be the shot in the arm some livestock producers need.

Some, in cattle country may be left wondering, 'where's the beef?'  We found out why it was left off the menu.

The Butcher family has been farming for more than a century.  They've got 750 head of cattle and 500 hogs.  Grain prices have put the pinch on their output.

"This year we could be less than 500," said Ben Butcher.

That's 500 less steers to send to market.  The cost to feed them is just too expensive.

Ben's father Robert says the President's plan to stock up on meat for federal nutrition programs is a step in the right direction.

"There really isn't a program to help them as there is for grain producers," explained the elder Butcher.

"America depends on farmers to put food on our tables.  America depends on farmers to feed our families.  So, we've got to be there for them," said President Barack Obama at a rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa Monday.

The President's promised to purchase millions of pounds of pork, poultry, lamb, and fish, but not beef.

"I think the beef market has held up better, so far.  I think the pork producers are going to have a tougher time getting back to the black than the cattle producers," Robert Butcher said.

While cattle producers are starting to send their herds to slaughter because they can't afford to feed them, Robert believes there won't be an oversupply of beef for the federal government to purchase.

"The cow herd is the smallest it's been since the early 1950's," he explained.

One-hundred-million of the $170 million that will be spent will purchase pork products.  Robert said they may have it the worst.

"Their profit margins are getting squeezed pretty hard," he said.

"Most of their ration consists of corn, where as with cattle we can feed more roughage," Ben  explained.

Pork prices shot up after the announcement.  The Butchers hope the buy-up will free-up more feed for their cattle.

"It's not going to be save-all for the industry, but it does help," said Robert.

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