The fallout from the coronavirus pandemic has been extremely difficult for the cattle markets. The April contract has lost more than $10 in a week, causing even more stress on the industry.
In an effort to help stop the consistent losses in the cattle markets, the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association is calling upon the USDA for their help to assist cattle producers. According to Lia Biondo, policy and outreach director of USCA, their first request is to restore the U.S. cattle market during the COVID-19 outbreak.
“What we’re specifically asking for is for [Secretary Sonny Perdue] to use his authority under the Commodity Credit Corporation to develop and implement some sort of needed program that will help U.S. cattle producers make it through this difficult time period,” said Biondo.
USCA is also asking Secretary Perdue to ensure that contingency plans are in place at meat processing facilities. That means keeping their doors open if an employee were to contract the coronavirus.
“Send that employee home, obviously, but make sure that there are contingency plans in place to ensure that the packing plants are operational,” said Biondo. “We’ve got food flying off the shelves across the U.S. We’re going to need a little bit of additional regulatory flexibility and additional financial assistance to continue supplying the nation with a wholesome, abundant supply of food.”
Biondo says USCA’s third request is for USDA to take a closer eye on cattle markets to prevent anti-competitive buying practices.
“Making sure we’ve got that market oversight to help line out the cattle markets right now, which are having a difficult time in the wake of the coronavirus,” she said.
Without these additional programs, Biondo thinks there will be producers going out of business in the long term because cattle producers have been hit with many years of continued losses.
“It’s not that the coronavirus is the reason for the market low, but it’s one of the reasons and it’s been the reason that has culminated all of these other low price years,” said Biondo.
In a statement to the cattle industry on Monday, USDA wrote that its agencies are committed to ensuring the health and safety of its employees and providing timely services to keep the food supply flowing.