USCA Statement on Efforts to Restore U.S. Cattle Markets

(WASHINGTON) March 20, 2020 – Following Congressional efforts to provide immediate, short-term relief for U.S. cattle producers during these historic times, United States Cattlemen’s Association (USCA) President Dr. Brooke Miller issued the following statement:

“USCA would like to recognize efforts by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to keep the U.S. agriculture system running as smoothly as possible and providing certainty in uncertain times.

“Secretary Sonny Perdue, senior officials, and staff have worked around the clock to ensure continuity and we greatly appreciate the continued dialogue with industry and other stakeholders.

“Transportation, inspection, and processing of beef is critical during this time. From the transportation of beef across the country, inspections in plants, export ports and import stations – it’s essential all of this continues during these challenging times. Further, USCA requests that the Department continue its market oversight responsibilities and examine any anticompetitive buying practices currently taking place in the marketplace. 

“USCA would also like to thank Senators Jon Tester (D-MT), Steve Daines (R-MT), John Thune (R-SD) Mike Rounds (R-SD), John Hoeven (R-ND), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Deb Fischer (R-NE), John Cornyn (R-TX), John Boozman (R-AR), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and others for answering the call from U.S. cattle producers to help restore fair and balanced livestock markets.

“While there is still work yet to be done, we now have viable solutions that we can press forward with as producers handle the fallout from COVID-19. USCA will continue to convene industry leaders via our policy committees to find consensus on the issues that matter most to our members.

“USCA looks forward to working with both Congress and the Administration to find a way for our members to get back to doing what they do best: restocking grocery store shelves with the highest quality beef in the world.”

COVID-19: The U.S. Cattlemen’s Association will continue to monitor this ongoing issue and provide timely updates.

In a letter to Secretary Sonny Perdue on Wednesday, Senator Jon Tester of Montana wrote: 

“Since January 1, 2020, live cattle futures lost nearly a quarter of their value. As the United States continues to take measures to address the COVID-19 pandemic, cattle prices are likely to continue to decline.”

“I urge the United States Department of Agriculture to examine this urgent situation and take steps to support the domestic cattle industry.”

“Your actions now could make the difference between folks going broke, or staying in the industry for another generation.”

Read Senator Tester’s Letter on COVID19

In a letter to President Donald J. Trump on Thursday, Senator Mike Rounds of South Dakota wrote: 

“Producers in South Dakota and the United States raise some of the highest quality beef and pork products in the world. However, consumers are unable to differentiate domestically raised beef and pork from foreign products entering the market due to current loopholes in labeling laws.

“MCOOL would address this by requiring information regarding the source of the meat to be disclosed. For this reason, I request the  administration …take steps to include language in renegotiated trade agreements with Mexico and Canada to allow for MCOOL.” 

Read Senator Round’s Letter on MCOOL

In a letter to Attorney General William Barr on Thursday, Senator Mike Rounds of South Dakota, Senator John Hoeven of North Dakota, and Senator Steve Daines of Montana stated: 

“Over the last few years, the packing industry has enjoyed considerable profits. At the same time, cattle ranchers are producing at a net loss. Packers are in a unique position within the supply chain to exert control over the input of cattle that they buy from cattle producers, and, based on those controlled inputs, can control the supply available to downstream purchasers.

“According to a large volume of our constituents and member organizations within our states, allegations continue to surface against packers for price-fixing schemes designed to undercut competition. Because of this, we take these claims seriously

“…We ask that the Department of Justice Antitrust Division evaluate these dual concerns thoroughly and expeditiously in order to protect the integrity of America’s failing beef industry.”

Read Senate Letter on DOJ Investigation

In a letter to Secretary Sonny Perdue on Friday, Senators Jerry Moran of Kansas, John Hoeven and Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, Deb Fischer of Nebraska, John Cornyn of Texas, John Boozman of Arkansas, Roy Blunt of Missouri, and  Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona stated: 

“We urge you to use your authorities under the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) Charter Act to make a one-time emergency payment to help beef cattle producers during this crisis.

“Cattlemen across the nation are independent by nature and strongly support free market principles. If structured correctly, these emergency payments will inject capital into the beef industry while causing distortions in the market. Further, making a payment on a per head basis is equitable to producers, benefits all segments of the beef industry and is readily achievable by USDA.” 

Read Senate Letter on Emergency Cattle Payment

Established in March 2007, USCA is committed to enhancing and expanding the cattle industry’s voice on Capitol Hill.  USCA has a full-time presence in Washington, giving cattle producers across the country a strong influence on policy development.  For more information go to www.uscattlemen.org.

By Brian Allmer - The BARN

Brian Allmer & the BARN are members of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting (NAFB), the Colorado FFA Foundation, the Colorado 4H Foundation, the Colorado Farm Show Marketing Committee, 1867 Club Board Member, Denver Ag & Livestock Club Member, the Weld County Fair Board, the Briggsdale FFA Advisory Council, Briggsdale 4H Club Beef Leader & Founder / Coordinator of the Briggsdale Classic Open Jackpot Show.