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Wyoming ranches hurt by COVID closures

USDA/MGN
USDA/MGN(KKTV)
Published: May. 26, 2020 at 5:28 PM CDT
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Ferguson ranch, a family-owned and operated business in Cheyenne, is reporting that recent closures have damaged revenue.

The ranch depends largely on selling beef from its cattle to bring in income, and with fewer businesses being available to serve food, they have not been able to sell as many cattle or for as much money as prior to the pandemic.

According to the owner, Walt Ferguson, he has observed less overall demand for this meat.

"It has to do with the pandemic. Restaurants are not open and restaurants do a significant portion of buying our beef," he says. "But it's not only restaurants; people are not working, they're not going out, they're not doing things, they're not going to gyms, they're not eating the protein and the food that they need. Sometimes the food's not available because of all this."

The ranch holds about 10,000 acres and five hundred cattle, and with three full-time workers, Ferguson says he has a lot of expenses to attend to.

"You've got to have approximately 500 heads of cows," he says. "Otherwise, you can't get enough money per head to generate money for wages and food, clothing, electricity -- the whole gambit."

However, closures are making it harder to sell their own beef, as they do not have the necessary facilities at the ranch to process it.

Ferguson says that he may have invested in these resources if he had known the pandemic was coming.

"We used to do our own, but we've kind of gotten away from it in the last ten years or so," he says. "Would we go back and do it again? Yes, but, y'know -- it takes a while to get the cattle ready for slaughter, so we're no prepared to do that at this time."

To help out farmers and ranchers struggling due to COVID-19, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is now accepting applications for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP).

Producers of agricultural goods and commodities can receive federal aid from the CFAP if they have suffered a 5 percent or greater decline due to the pandemic.

For more information on how to qualify, visit the

.

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