Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association program adds value to cull cow market

Beef prices and marketing continue to be an uphill climb for cattlemen. To improve markets, the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association has developed a program called Oklahoma Prairie Beef Solutions to pump up prices for cull cattle markets in the state and provide more local marketing opportunities.

Sydnee Gerken, OPBS director of operations, said in April of 2019, OCA put together a task force to develop an Oklahoma branded beef label. OPBS—which was modeled after a program within the Kentucky Cattlemen’s Association—was started in May 2020 and was designed to incentivize producers, increase local beef demand and educate consumers.

“We are striving to provide another opportunity for producers to market cattle in the state of Oklahoma,” Gerken said. “And although Oklahoma is very rural, we sometimes take for granted the fact that our consumers are still several generations removed from the farm.”

Gerken said OPBS was designed to reward producers who send cattle through the program with a premium versus what they would traditionally receive at the sale barn.

“Rather than paying based off a live weight, the cattle that go through this program will be rewarded off of a hot carcass weight. When you look at the markets traditionally, carcass weight is paid for on a higher scale versus live weight,” Gerken said.

Right now the program is focused on adding value to the cull cow ground beef market, but she said the program could eventually open it up to other cattle. There are three specifications to be part of the program, the first one is that anyone who enrolls cattle in the program must have a current OCA membership. Secondly, participants must provide a Beef Quality Assurance certification. Finally, the cattle in the program must be owned by the producer in Oklahoma for a minimum of 90 days. Cattle enrolled in the program are third-party verified through IMI Global, a division of Where food Comes From.

OCA is currently working with Crest Foods grocery stores in the Oklahoma City area to provide OPBS ground beef for consumers. To start off, the products will be available at the Edmond, Oklahoma, store and hopefully as the program grows, it will be in all nine locations. Gerken said OCA expects the program to be fully operational by the summer 2021, just in time for grilling season.

“I pray that this benefits the Oklahoma cattlemen and we want to highlight our producers so we designed this program with their best interests in mind,” Gerken said. “We encourage anyone who is interested to get enrolled by visiting www.oklahomaprairiebeefsolutions.com and click on the forms tab to download the form to begin the process. As far as getting kill dates scheduled, it will probably be the beginning of May before we start harvesting cattle.”

Lacey Newlin can be reached at 620-227-1871 or [email protected].