Following two days of political bickering, a deal was made and the U.S. Senate unanimously approved a $2 trillion economic relief package resulting from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. In an unprecedented move, the Missouri Cattlemen's Association and other cattle organizations throughout the country requested inclusion of beef cattle producers in the funding package.
"Cattle producers are independent people who want government out of the way while working hard as a family to make a living producing the safest, most nutritious protein possible for consumers," said MCA Executive Vice President Mike Deering. "This crisis turned the cattle markets upside down and disaster relief was needed for the families we represent. This financial destruction was 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."
The bill provides the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Office of the Secretary with $9.5 billion in funding "to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus" by providing support for agricultural producers impacted by coronavirus, including livestock producers, specialty crop producers, and producers that supply local food systems. In addition, the bill replenishes $14 billion in funding for the Commodity Credit Corporation, which is often used to stabilize, support and protect farm income and prices.
"While we were disappointed the funding for agriculture ended up nowhere near what was originally proposed and requested by this association, we still appreciate Senate leadership and Senator Roy Blunt and Senator Josh Hawley for ensuring beef cattle producers were included in this disaster package," said Deering.
Once this legislation is passed by the U.S. House of Representatives and signed into law by President Donald Trump, Deering said MCA will be working to ensure beef cattle producers receive a fair portion of the $9.5 billion.
"We will absolutely be communicating the need of beef cattle producers to USDA," said Deering. "The need is real and the beef cattle industry is unique in that we have no other funding mechanism to provide relief to producers. This is uncharted water for us."