Cortez Masto, Rosen send bipartisan, bicameral letter urging USDA support for cattle producers during coronavirus pandemic

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U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) led a bipartisan, bicameral letter with U.S. Senators Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) and John Thune (R-S.D.) along with U.S. Reps. Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) and Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue.

In the letter, the Members of Congress requested that he provide immediate assistance to cattle producers by using the resources provided in the recently enacted Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Stabilization (CARES) Act, which Rosen and Cortez Masto voted for and helped pass last week.

“The COVID-19 outbreak has demonstrated the need for domestic food security,” the members of Congress wrote. “All farmers and ranchers are vital to our country’s ability to keep food on the table in a future pandemic or related crisis, and many producers, including young producers, are often highly leveraged and cannot fall back on years of equity in a time of crisis. As such, we urge you to quickly deliver relief to producers as we work to lessen the economic impact of this pandemic.”

The BLM manages livestock grazing on 155 million acres of federal lands. Fifty-seven million acres of Nevada are under BLM management with some 18,000 active grazing permits on 21,000 allotments.

According to a press release, Cortez Masto, Rosen, Thune, Johnson, Cuellar and others worked to ensure the CARES Act replenished the CCC and appropriated an additional $9.5 billion for USDA to assist producers, including livestock producers, throughout this crisis.

Full text of the letter is here and below:

The Honorable Sonny Perdue

Secretary

U.S. Department of Agriculture

1400 Independence Avenue, SW

Washington, DC 20250

Dear Secretary Perdue,

We write to request swift assistance for cattle producers with the resources provided in the recently enacted Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Stabilization (CARES) Act to facilitate the stabilization of farm and ranch income to producers who are facing market volatility in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and economic fallout.

Recognizing the market volatility and financial hardships producers are facing because of COVID-19, the CARES Act provides $14 billion toward replenishment of the Commodity Credit Corporation and an additional $9.5 billion for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to assist farmers and ranchers in response to COVID-19. While we do not know what the full market impact will be for the various commodities produced in our states, we recognize that there is an immediate need for assistance for our cattle producers.

We request that USDA consider data and estimates available from the Office of the Chief Economist and implement a program that would directly respond to the negative effect on producers caused by COVID-19. This program should deliver targeted, temporary, equitable relief to cattle producers in a manner that limits market distortions and negative effects on price discovery.

The COVID-19 outbreak has demonstrated the need for domestic food security. All farmers and ranchers are vital to our country’s ability to keep food on the table in a future pandemic or related crisis, and many producers, including young producers, are often highly leveraged and cannot fall back on years of equity in a time of crisis. As such, we urge you to quickly deliver relief to producers as we work to lessen the economic impact of this pandemic.

Sincerely,