Moran seeks federal support for nation’s beef cattle producers

U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS) last week urged that the federal government authorize federal funds to help sustain the nation’s beef cattle producers during the coronavirus pandemic.

“It is important that we act quickly to provide assistance to cattlemen in these unprecedented times without unnecessarily intruding into the markets,” Sen. Moran and several lawmakers wrote in a March 20 letter sent to Sonny Perdue, secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), that urged him to use authorities under the Commodity Credit Corporation Charter Act “to make a one-time emergency payment to help beef cattle producers during this crisis.”

Among the members joining Sen. Moran in signing the bipartisan letter were U.S. Sens. Roy Blunt (R-MO), John Hoeven (R-ND), Deb Fischer (R-NE), and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ).

“We propose making this emergency payment to producers on a per head basis using a payment rate applied to the fair market value of the cattle as determined by the USDA chief economist,” wrote the senators. “The payment method ought to be structured to reflect programs previously administered by USDA, such as the Livestock Indemnity Program, Livestock Forage Disaster Program or Market Facilitation Program.”

Using an existing USDA program as a template would enable the USDA to quickly and efficiently make funds available to beef cattle producers in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, they wrote, adding that they also expect Perdue “to establish program parameters and adjust the payment factor to both meet the current needs of the beef cattle industry and fit into budget constraints.”

“As COVID-19 wreaks havoc on markets, we must strongly support cattlemen across the country by making this emergency payment,” Sen. Moran and the lawmakers wrote. “We stand ready to assist you as you continue to serve beef producers grappling with the market consequences of the COVID-19 outbreak.”