Though a somber holiday, I hope everyone had a good Memorial Day. Many of the men and women who took up arms and paid for our freedom with their lives came from agrarian roots. I doubt that connection was lost on WWI soldier and poet John McCrae whose words inspired the common poppy to become a symbol of Memorial Day. A 2015 article in Modern Farmer tells the story.
Government restrictions on businesses and events around the nation, especially in Texas, continue to loosen as we all adjust to the new normal of living amongst a global pandemic. Even so, most lawmakers and government officials remain focused on COVID-19 and its many related issues.
In Washington, most of that attention is on another round of stimulus funding. Exactly what that will entail is still a hotly debated topic. The $3 trillion package passed by the Democratic-controlled House is all but dead, and the ball is now in the Senate’s court. Both sides have promised to include agriculture as part of the equation, but as usual, the devil will be in the details.
With House and Senate leadership bogged down on the stimulus discussion, not much else is moving, but there has been some progress on legislation to adjust requirements for the Paycheck Protection Program. A House bill passed this week would extend the time that employers have to spend the forgivable loan and lower the percentage that has to be spent on payroll versus operational costs. That legislation is now in the Senate’s court as well.
On the agency side, it’s been all about USDA’s long-awaited Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, or CFAP. The agency finally released details last week and opened up the application process this Tuesday.
Like all of the tools we’ve discussed in recent weeks, CFAP is far from perfect and may fit some operations better than others. While that’s a decision everyone will have to make, we’re doing our best at TSCRA to help in the process. Next week we will host an exclusive webinar with Bill Northey, USDA Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation.
The webinar will provide additional information on CFAP and give TSCRA members an unprecedented opportunity to ask the Under Secretary questions about the program and application process. Be sure to register here, and I’ll hope to see y’all there!
Last but not least, TSCRA has adopted new and revised policies to guide our staff and leaders as we address some of the underlying issues that were worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve long known that the cattle industry relies on negotiated trade for robust price discovery, which is especially crucial for cow-calf producers. As such, TSCRA has adopted a new policy supporting an increase in negotiated trade on a regional basis, using sound economic data and transparency rather than a one-size-fits-all percentage.
Our Livestock Market Reporting policy was also revised with the same goal in mind.
The TSCRA Live Cattle Market Working Group formulated the recommendations, which were provided to the TSCRA Executive Committee and adopted as TSCRA policy. Check out the full policies here.
Jeremy Fuchs is the director of public affairs for Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association.