WEISER--In the foothills northwest of Weiser, its an annual rite of spring, branding season.
"I'm Br.uce Winegar, we raise cattle under Bruce Winegar Cattle and Hay. And we've been doing it forever," said Winegar.
Today, Winegar crew is branding 65 first-calf heifers, all gathered in this corral, The Winegar are joined by their team roping neighbors, and it's not only hard work but work they all enjoy. In the time of COVID-19, while the season looks the same there’s trouble in the cattle market:
"I do follow the market. I have a neighbor that follows it a lot, he buys, sells, and trades and tells me all the bad news that's going on. We still have the cattle. We have the same cattle we've had for the last 40 years in the areas and they will be for sale this fall. But the way the market is reacting it's not very favorable for us," said Winegar.
As the beef supply crunch hits grocery stores, prices are going up for burgers and steaks and purchase limits are in effect with a much smaller selection: and while there are shortages at the market, there’s plenty of beef in production.
"I do know that there is plenty of beef and the slaughterhouses in this country are going crazy butchering, even the private butchers can't keep up they're running two and three shifts to keep up because people are worried about hamburger, and you can go to the store and buy hamburger whenever you want, so I don't understand. Its kind of a false thing telling people there's a shortage," added Winegar.
As meatpacking plants snuggle to keep up, ranchers hope beef prices recover in the fall. And their message to the nation: they’re producing more than enough beef to feed America.