The leadership of the Missouri Cattlemen's Association today penned a letter to its Congressional delegation and other leaders requesting assistance for Missouri cattle producers suffering from financial and economic destruction caused in part by the Coronavirus (COVID-19). It is unprecedented for the cattle industry to seek government assistance, but the association said this is a crisis that needs immediate attention.
"The economic and financial fallout of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) is beyond comprehension. The financial destruction is compounded by severe drought conditions that were followed by unprecedented flooding in many regions of the state and an extensive drain of equity due to the market disruptions caused by the fire at Tyson's Holcomb, Kansas, beef processing facility eight months ago," penned MCA President Marvin Dieckman and MCA Executive Vice President Mike Deering. "Given the current market uncertainty and extreme volatility, the Missouri Cattlemen's Association leadership and staff are laser focused on finding solutions to help minimize the impact of this crisis, while not losing our dedication to determining what long term, structural changes can be made to increase transparency, price discovery and reduce volatility in the cattle markets."
Specifically, the association requested the following actions:
- Emergency disaster assistance for our farm and ranch families as part of a stimulus package intended to help the nation weather the crisis. We request the replenishment of the Commodity Credit Corporation to issue additional Market Facilitation Program (MFP) payments or a similar program to include cattle producers. Given this is uncharted water for cattle producers, we are working with state and national organizations and leading economists to determine the exact structure of these payments to be meaningful to the families we represent.
- The U.S. Department of Transportation recently announced an Hours of Service Emergency Waiver for livestock haulers. This was a critical to keeping haulers in business and ensuring movement across the entire beef supply chain. We ask this be expanded to feedstuffs, critically important animal health technologies and fertilizer.
- Flexibility and increased access to low and zero interest loans in order to remain viable and ensure that grocery store shelves remained stocked.We are encouraging USDA/FSA to expand availability of these loans, in addition to increasing flexibility of terms for existing loans.
- Ensure USDA inspectors do not become a limiting factor in keeping packing and processing plants from operating. Increase vigilance and surveillance throughout the cattle and beef marketing chains to guard against market manipulation and price gouging.