Press Release Provided by the California Farm Bureau Federation
In a letter sent on April 9th to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, R-CALF USA urged that Congress’ $9.5 billion COVID-19-related appropriations be used to directly assist actual cattle and sheep producers “whose already broken marketplace” has been severely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
The letter specifically states that assistance should target seed-stock producers, cow/calf producers, sheep producers, cattle and sheep backgrounders, stockers and feeders who are most at risk of not being able to fulfill their financial obligations.
The group said the assistance should go to producers of U.S. born and raised cattle and sheep and not to those who sell livestock of foreign origin.
“In relation to feeders, only those exposed to moves in cash cattle prices should receive assistance. Those shielded by such market moves through preferential payments (such as any payment not reported by packers under Livestock Mandatory Price Reporting at the time the cattle were sold) should be excluded,” the letter states.
The letter also cautioned that U.S. cattle and sheep producers do not want to fall into a non-competitive cycle where both buyers and sellers rely on taxpayer dollars to subsidize their incomes.
Offering a unique recommendation, the group urges the Secretary to focus assistance on the ability of cattle and sheep producers to maintain both preexisting financial obligations and their current financial needs for maintaining financially viable operations. Included in this suggestion were proposals for loan payment waivers and even loan forgiveness in some instances.
Also included is a request to grant federal gains tax relief for producers that sell assets to remedy their financial plights.
“This needed assistance must be accompanied by meaningful market reforms so America’s cattle and sheep producers can begin earning a competitive income from a competitive market,” said R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard.