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USDA-NASS may be contacting some Oklahoma stocker cattle producers

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Oklahoma cattle producers who received the Oklahoma State University Stocker Survey from the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service recently but who have not returned it will soon be receiving a call from NASS to help them complete the survey.

OSU’s Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, in cooperation with the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and USDA-NASS is conducting the first-of-its kind survey to gather previously unavailable information on the procurement and assembly of stocker cattle, production and management practices and variability, and marketing practices of stocker producers.

DASNR agricultural economists Derrell Peel and Kellie Raper have reported a sample of responses thus far has been “very encouraging and will provide unprecedented information about the vital stocker industry in Oklahoma.”

“We are excited about the possibilities this data will open up for us to understand and provide help and insight for Oklahoma cattle producers,” said Peel, who is the state’s OSU Cooperative Extension livestock marketing specialist. “We’re very grateful to producers who take the time to provide this information on a sector of the cattle industry that is not well understood.”

The importance of stocker producers in Oklahoma’s economy is known to be significant, but just how significant?

“Nobody really likes filling out a survey but this one is pretty important in regards to what it means to Oklahoma’s stocker cattle industry,” Peel said. “Not only will it provide detailed information to help researchers and industry analysts understand the vital economic role of the stocker industry, it will provide insight into such things as the disease threats associated with cattle movement into and out of stocker production.”

As stocker cattle operators can readily attest, stocker or backgrounding provides vital production and marketing system values to the beef industry. Stocker production happens in a wide variety of different situations and environments in many regions of the country.

“This illustrates the critical role of the stocker sector in providing flexibility to enhance beef industry competitiveness, including adjusting production in response to feed and forage market changes, enhancing the quality of feeder cattle by adding weight and age to stocker cattle, and regulating the flow of cattle from cow-calf production to the feedlots,” Peel said.

In essence, the stocker cattle sector acts in part as an essential shock absorber for the beef industry. Unfortunately, to date little data exists to fully understand and analyze the varied activities and actions that make up the stocker sector. Stocker production occurs year around in Oklahoma, utilizing a wide variety of native and introduced pastures.

“An inventory snapshot once or maybe twice a year does not capture the flow of animals through stocker production systems,” Raper said. “Additionally, we have only very coarse estimates of the movement of cattle around the country before and after stocker production.”

The Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service is one of two state agencies administered by DASNR, and one of the three equal parts in OSU’s state and federally mandated teaching, research and Extension land-grant mission.

Oklahoma is the nation’s fifth-leading producer of cattle and calves, according to USDA-NASS statistics.

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