Today, the Colorado Livestock Association, along with state affiliates across the country, sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) urging against payment limitations for livestock producers under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). The cattle industry has and will suffer significant losses due to COVID-19, and CFAP has the potential to be a critical lifeline for America’s cattle producers whose family businesses have been upended by the ongoing pandemic.
The letter urges against any payment limitations or means-testing provisions that would arbitrarily restrict assistance under CFAP. While many details of the program have yet to be released, initial reports indicate CFAP will have a payment limit of $125,000 per commodity and $250,000 per producer. Given the massive per-head losses already realized across all segments of the cattle industry, as well as the projected diminished revenue beyond 2020, rumors of payment limitations are particularly alarming.
In March, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association commissioned a team of agricultural economists, led by Dr. Derrell Peel of Oklahoma State University, to forecast cattle market losses attributable to COVID-19. That study, released on April 14th, estimated total industry losses at $13.6 billion. Further, the study found immediate losses by cattle industry segment broke down to $3.7 billion for cow-calf producers, $2.5 billion for stocker/backgrounders, and $3 billion for feeders. On a per-head basis, this calculates to cow-calf, stocker/backgrounder, and feeder segment losses of approximately $247.15, $159.98, and $205.96, respectively.