As the COVID-19 saga continues, we’re continuing our government and public affairs efforts on behalf of cattle producers.
In case you missed it, on Tuesday, Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association leaders wrote a letter that we sent to Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue. If you haven’t read it yet, it’s definitely worth checking out here. We’re asking that USDA continue to put pressure on packers to close the gap between live cattle prices and boxed beef prices, and pursue market-based solutions to the challenges facing cattle producers.
Additionally, USDA has now received $9.5 billion in funds from the recently passed CARES Act. We asked in the letter that cow-calf producers have fair access to those funds, if they want them, and that USDA avoid the creation of any permanent programs as part of the implementation.
Other tools are also becoming available to producers.
The Small Business Administration is opening the Payroll Protection Program, or PPP, today. The program provides low-interest, forgivable loans for small businesses, including farms and ranches, who can use them to cover up to eight weeks of payroll costs. An overview is available here. You can also access the PPP borrower application here, and SBA has put together a map that allows individuals to search for PPP eligible lenders nearby and can be accessed here.
The program is technically open until June, but funds are on a first-come first-serve basis, so if you’re interested, it would be a good idea to contact your lender as soon as possible.
A second loan program for Economic Injury Disaster Loans, or EIDL, is also being overseen by the Small Business Administration. However, they are pushing back agricultural operations qualifying for these loans, but this was not the intent of Congress when funding was provided through the CARES Act. Numerous members of Congress and ag groups, like TSCRA, are continuing to push SBA on the issue. We’ll keep y’all posted as we learn more.
On another note, the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t slowing down activists. This week environmental groups served notice that they intend to sue the EPA and Army Corp of Engineers over the revamped Waters of the United States Rule. We’ve also seen continued assertions from fake meat producers that they want to do away with animal agriculture. There will be more to come on that topic in the Where We Stand column by TSCRA President Robert E. McKnight in the May edition of The Cattleman magazine!
I think that’s all for this week. Y’all keep up the good out there!
Jeremy Fuchs is director of public affairs for Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association.