Ranchers in Colorado are unable to get ready-for-market cattle off their hands because of a processing backlog.
Trade customers are willing and even desperate to buy beef, but a lack of processing capacity means that ranchers can’t move fully fattened beef cattle off their lots, several of them told KUSA-TV news. They have to remain on the lot, consuming more feed and preventing the ranchers from buying any more animals.
"If I could get them in today and get them processed, I could sell that beef," one of them said.
The problem isn’t so much large processors like JBS but smaller ones, who account for a lot of the capacity needed by ranchers in western Colorado, according to KUSA. Some smaller processors are shutting down and all are overwhelmed by demand, especially for boutique steaks and other products that have a marketing connection to the ranch where they originated.
The executive VP of the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association said that the backup is still exceeding pre-pandemic levels.