Given the rapidly changing federal, state and local government responses to the COVID-19 crisis, CCA is providing this communication to provide the most up-to-date information regarding California ranchers’ role in responding to the outbreak. Expect further communications from CCA in the days and weeks to come as more information becomes available.
California agriculture is an “essential service” during a state of emergency
CCA staff and leadership has been in constant contact with the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) and the Governor’s office to ensure that all sectors of the livestock industry and beef production are considered “essential services,” ensuring that there will not be any restrictions or unnecessary hurdles in the way of providing beef to re-stock grocers’ meat cases.
Today, CDFA issued guidance that “The food supply makes up critical infrastructure from farm to table and includes assets, systems, networks, and functions that provide vital services to the nation. It is essential that critical infrastructure and supply chains are protected, and that all elements pertaining to the food supply remain operational, including a workforce that is vital to production of the food supply.”
CCA expects no restrictions upon the agricultural sector and food production. Should your operation confront any hurdles related to the COVID-19 outbreak, contact CCA staff immediately so that we can work with CDFA and the Governor’s office to immediately resolve any issues.
CCA and NCBA work to secure the beef supply chain and provide relief for ranchers
CCA continues to work closely with our national affiliate the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association to ensure that the federal government eliminates any obstacles in the food supply chain. On Tuesday, NCBA Vice President of Government Affairs Ethan Lane wrote to Vice President Pence outlining administrative actions which would protect and streamline the nation’s beef supply chain.
In response to COVID-19’s impact on the cattle markets, NCBA CEO Colin Woodall on Wednesday wrote to the North American Meat Institute asking NAMI’s members “to be aggressive in the cash market and base their bids on the increased cutout value we are seeing rather than the futures” to ensure market liquidity and transparency.
CCA is also working with NCBA and our allies in the nation’s capital to ensure that all producer losses directly associated with COVID-19 are addressed by Congress. The Senate is currently negotiating and drafting a $1 trillion “Phase III” stimulus bill in response to the COVID-19 crisis, and today NCBA sent a letter to Congressional leadership asking that Congress “provide for an increase in the U.S. Department of Agriculture Commodity Credit Corporation’s (USDA – CCC) borrowing authority from $30 to $50 billion, fully fund the replenishment of CCC, and ensure that livestock producers will be eligible for assistance in this time of need.”
CCA encourages all producers to document all losses associated with the COVID-19 crisis. Such information will be vital in developing a relief program and ensuring that producers are ultimately compensated for losses associated with the pandemic.
All California livestock markets will remain open for business—with COVID-19 precautions
CCA has also been in close contact with the Livestock Marketing Association and has received assurances that California livestock markets will remain open for business during the COVID-19 crisis. To prevent the transmission of the virus, however, markets are making changes to the way they do business to ensure proper social distancing.
Feds and California Provide Temporary Hours of Service Exemptions for Livestock Haulers
In response to the COVID-19 emergency, yesterday the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued an Expanded Emergency Declaration exempting livestock haulers from compliance with the federal Hours of Service rules that limit drive time. The declaration provides an Hours of Service exemption for all haulers “providing direct assistance in support of emergency relief efforts related to the COVID-19 outbreaks, including” food “for emergency restocking of distribution centers or stores” and “immediate precursor raw materials” necessary for the production of such food and groceries. The Office of the Secretary of Transportation interprets all livestock hauling to fit this exemption.
Hours of Service rest requirements remain in effect under the declaration, meaning that once a driver returns to his or her “normal reporting location,” that individual must still receive a minimum of 10 hours of off-duty rest.
Governor Gavin Newsom responded to the exemption by issuing an Executive Order likewise exempting haulers engaged in intrastate or interstate transportation from California’s Hours of Service regulations. While Governor Newsom’s order does not explicitly reference livestock (or “precursor raw materials”), the order makes clear that it is intended to be consistent with FMCSA’s order and apply to all hauling “in support of emergency relief efforts,” including “food for emergency restocking of stores.”
The FMCSA exemption is in effect until April 12 (or until the COVID-19 national emergency is terminated, if it is terminated prior to April 12). The California exemption is in effect as long as the FMCSA exemption remains effective.
Though not required, CCA recommends that livestock haulers operating under these exemptions print out the FMCSA Expanded Emergency Declaration, available here, and Governor Newsom’s Executive Order, available here, and keep these documents in their cab.
Most importantly, CCA is here for you
Please contact CCA staff immediately if you have a time-sensitive issue we can help address. Understanding everyone is affected by COVID-19 in a variety of ways, if there’s anything we can do to help or an important issue needs to be raised, please let us know.
Most importantly, CCA continues to urge all members to follow CDC guidance and do everything in your power to stay healthy. Click here to learn more on CDC guidance.
CCA will continue to provide updates as needed. Refer to calcattlemen.org/COVID-19 and future email communications for more information.