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Futures Trader Burns Tyson With $200 Million Loss on Fake Cattle

  • Rancher covered futures gambling with fake invoices, DOJ says
  • The real animals on ranch almost wound up without food
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Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

It took a while to notice, but Tyson Foods Inc. eventually realized late last year that more than 200,000 of its cattle seemed to have gone missing on a Washington state ranch.

It turns out that they never existed. That’s the bizarre upshot from the collapse and bankruptcy of Easterday Ranches, which was under contract to house, raise and feed bovines for Tyson. All told, the episode cost the biggest U.S. meat company and another producer more than $200 million, and the rancher who gambled it away on cattle and corn futures may be headed for prison.