Washington, D.C. – In response to concerns about cattle prices, Congressman Adrian Smith, the rest of the Nebraska delegation, and over 100 other members of Congress wrote a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue urging implementation of assistance for producers as quickly as possible. Congressman Smith released the following statement:
“During the COVID-19 outbreak, we have seen first-hand the importance of food production and how much we rely on our producers. Despite the crucial role our cattle producers play in feeding our nation, they are now having to weather low prices and market volatility, among other constraints. We owe a great deal of thanks to our producers for feeding America. It is now our turn to provide the assistance they need during this unprecedented time.”
Phase III of the federal government’s COVID-19 response, known as the CARES Act, which was recently signed into law by President Trump, provides $9.5 billion in emergency funding and replenishes the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) for agricultural producers impacted by COVID-19, including livestock producers.
Full text of the letter:
The Honorable Sonny Perdue
U.S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20250
Dear Secretary Perdue,
We write to request swift assistance for cattle producers with the resources provided in the recently enacted Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Stabilization (CARES) Act to facilitate the stabilization of farm and ranch income to producers who are facing market volatility in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and economic fallout.
Recognizing the market volatility and financial hardships producers are facing because of COVID-19, the CARES Act provides $14 billion toward replenishment of the Commodity Credit Corporation and an additional $9.5 billion for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to assist farmers and ranchers in response to COVID-19. While we do not know what the full market impact will be for the various commodities produced in our states, we recognize that there is an immediate need for assistance for our cattle producers.
We request that USDA consider data and estimates available from the Office of the Chief Economist and implement a program that would directly respond to the negative effect on producers caused by COVID-19. This program should deliver targeted, temporary, equitable relief to cattle producers in a manner that limits market distortions and negative effects on price discovery.
The COVID-19 outbreak has demonstrated the need for domestic food security. All farmers and ranchers are vital to our country’s ability to keep food on the table in a future pandemic or related crisis, and many producers, including young producers, are often highly leveraged and cannot fall back on years of equity in a time of crisis. As such, we urge you to quickly deliver relief to producers as we work to lessen the economic impact of this pandemic.