Fire at Tyson plant, temporary closure creates concern for area ranchers

DODGE CITY, Kan. Tyson Foods is committed to rebuilding at its Finney County plant, but until the plant gets back on its feet, area ranchers have some concerns, specifically about where they'll send their cattle for slaughter.

Last Friday's fire took offline the plant that processes six percent of American cattle.

Brian Winter, owner of Winter Livestock Incorporated in Dodge City specializes in cow calf, feeder and stocker cattle. He hosts sale barn auctions on Wednesdays and this week, expressed concern with prices dropping. He says live cattle is at its lowest rate since Oct. 2016 and feeder cattle is at its lowest rate since March 2017.

"There was a negative response in the cattle industry to the loss of capacity," Winter says of the fire to the Finney County Tyson plant. "So when that went down, it created a fear of rush to protection, which is using the (Chicago Mercantile Exchange) to price future deliveries."

Cattle prices are based on that exchange.

With the Chicago Mercantile Exchange prices at a low point, cattle at the sale barn are going for less than they would have just last week.

Winter says this issue is only temporary.

"Once the panic and fear settles out, it'll find its base and start moving to a more fundamental position, which we like," he says.

Winter is hopeful all will return to normal when Tyson opens again.