CCA, NCBA Lobby Congress for Additional COVID-19 Relief
Last Tuesday, CCA and national affiliate the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA)—along with 33 other livestock associations—submitted a letter to Congress regarding priorities the beef industry would like to see incorporated in possible “Phase 4” COVID-19 legislation. The Senate and House of Representatives are likely to tackle another phase of COVID-19 relief legislation upon their return from recess beginning July 20.
Of primary concern to many cattle ranchers, the letter encourages Congress to improve USDA’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). Currently, “Part 2” of CFAP only provides ranchers $33/head for cattle owned after the April 15. Noting the arbitrary nature of this cutoff date and the significant market impacts to America’s cattlemen, the letter asks that USDA “be provided the guidance and additional resources necessary to address” those market impacts.
Other priorities highlighted in the letter include increasing processing capacity at packing plants and making greater acreage available for emergency haying and grazing under the Farm Service Agency’s Conservation Reserve Program.
“The assistance provided to rural America through the CARES Act represented a critical step toward ensuring U.S. cattle producers remain operationally viable in the short-term during the height of COVID-19,” said NCBA Vice President of Government Affairs Ethan Lane. “However, as our nation collectively works to rebound from this pandemic, we have a clearer understanding of the challenges that remain for our industry, as well as the long-term solutions needed to facilitate a robust recovery. While CFAP was a good start, these cattle assistance payments can be improved upon and tailored to provide additional support to those in our industry who have been especially affected by market disruption from the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, further measures such as emergency haying and grazing under the Conservation Reserve Program, a fed-cattle set aside pilot program, and the waiving of overtime fees for Federal Meat Inspectors can be utilized by Congress to ensure the beef supply chain is stronger moving forward.”
PPP Application Deadline Extended Through August 8
On Saturday, President Trump signed S. 4116, a bill extending the application deadline for the Small Business Administration (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) through August 8. PPP had initially expired at the end of June, but $130 billion remained in the fund at that time.
More information from CCA regarding SBA’s PPP is available on CCA’s COVID-19 webpage, here.
North American Cattle Associations Praise USMCA Implementation
On Wednesday, July 1, the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) took effect. To mark the occasion, leaders of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Canadian Cattlemen’s Association and Mexico’s Confederación Nacional de Organizaciones Ganaderas sent a joint letter to President Trump, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador thanking them for the successful implementation of USMCA.
“Together, our organizations worked in unified support of USMCA because it protects market-based principles while making improvements in other sectors to reflect the needs of a modern North American economy,” the letter reads. “We are the envy of many countries because of the marketplace freedom USMCA will continue to provide both producers and consumers.
“International trade is fundamental to the success of North American farmers and ranchers and the full value of the products we sell can only be achieved when we have access to the markets that most value them. In the face of the economic hardships of COVID-19, it is timely and welcome that USMCA enters into force, providing a foundation of economic stability for our rural communities and food systems.”
The full letter is available here.
House Introduces Legislation to Improve Meat Processing Capacity
On Wednesday, a bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced the Requiring Assistance to Meat Processors for Upgrading Plants (RAMP UP) Act, which provides existing meat processors incentives to improve beef processing capacity.
Introduced by a group of Representatives including California’s Jim Costa (D-CA16), the RAMP UP Act seeks to bolster market access for cattle producers and improve the beef supply chain.
The RAMP UP Act authorizes up to $100,000 in federal grants to incentivize certain existing meat processors to submit to federal inspection. Currently, state-inspected and custom exempt meat processors cannot sell meat in interstate commerce, and the process of complying with Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) inspection requirements can be costly and complex. If enacted, the RAMP UP Act would ease these burdens for processors, enabling them to submit to FSIS inspection and benefitting cattle producers by opening additional markets for their beef.
“The COVID-19 pandemic caused unprecedented disruptions to beef processing which were devastating to cattle producers,” said NCBA Vice President Don Schiefelbein. “The RAMP UP Act addresses these supply chain issues by ensuring cattle ranchers and farmers have robust access to new markets regardless of where their livestock is processed.”
UCCE San Benito Video on Grazing and Fire Prevention Available Online
On Thursday, University of California Cooperative Extension San Benito County hosted a workshop on Grazing and Prescribed Burning for Fire Safety. The webinar included the initial results of a study funded by the California Cattle Council, “Benefits of Cattle Grazing for Fuels Reduction and Fire Safety,” a topic of interest to numerous CCA members.
For those unable to virtually attend Thursday’s webinar, UCCE San Benito has posted the video online, here. The webinar also covered a grant recently awarded by Cal Fire for the development of a Prescribed Burn Association in San Benito and surrounding counties, among other topics.
Cattlemen’s Beef Board Now Accepting Producer Nominations
Interested in helping shape the beef checkoff? Now is your chance to get involved! The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service is seeking nominees for the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board now through August 12, with a seat opening for the Southwest Unit (California and Nevada).
The Board is authorized by the Beef Promotion and Research Act of 1985 and is made up of 101 members representing 34 separate states, four units of geographically grouped states and one importer unit.
Any beef producer who owns cattle may be nominated. Producers must be nominated by a USDA certified producer organization (including CCA) and submit a completed application. USDA will select appointees from the nominated producers.
Interested California producers should express their interest in serving to Morgan in the CCA office at firstname.lastname@example.org without delay. To learn more about the Cattlemen’s Beef Board and being nominated, click here.
SCE & PG&E Offering Energy Webinars in July
Two free webinars on energy are being offered this month by Southern California Edison (SCE) and Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E). The first webinar, “Pumps; Energy and Water Efficiency” is happening Thursday, July 23 from 9-11am PST and will begin with SCE Hydraulic Services and PG&E’s Advanced Pumping Efficiency Program descriptions and eligibility. It will then move to a basic discussion about how pumps work, efficiency, operating conditions, pump curves and general component discussion. The workshop will progress into a live demonstration of pump efficiency, water flow and Total Dynamic Head (TDH). SGMA and ILRP regulations will also be discussed.
An additional webinar on “Variable Frequency Drives for Agricultural Pumping” is scheduled for Thursday, July 30 from 9-11am PST. The course will begin with SCE Hydraulic Services and PG&E’s Advanced Pumping Efficiency Program descriptions and eligibility, and a refresher discussion from the previous live webinar on basic pumps and efficiency. There will be demonstrations and discussion on how Variable Frequency Drives (VFD) are becoming more common in agricultural pumping and production facilities. It will progress into a beginner’s discussion of how VFDs work, VFD controls of irrigation equipment, proper installation and maintenance. Other topics such as grower reporting of SGMA and ILRP regulations will be discussed.
For more information on the webinars and to register, click here.
California Beef Council Welcomes New Director of Food & Nutrition Outreach
Kori Dover has joined the California Beef Council (CBC) team as the Director of Food & Nutrition Outreach. Kori received her bachelor of science in Human Nutrition and Dietetic from Metropolitan State University in Denver and completed her Dietetic Internship at California State University, Sacramento. Over the past year she has been providing nutrition education and patient care for the California Department of Corrections, Elk Grove Unified School District, Sutter Medical Center, San Joaquin General Hospital, California Department of Public Health and Women and Infant Care.
Kori is looking forward to joining the CBC team and providing nutrition education and resources around beef that support a healthy lifestyle. Kori is married with two active teenagers and she enjoys doing outdoor activities with her family, gardening and reading. Please help CBC welcome Kori at email@example.com.
CFAP Application Now Available Online
The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) has announced it will now begin accepting online applications for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) for sole-proprietorships and single-member business entities. Until now, applicants were required to submit CFAP applications via their local USDA Service Centers.
Online application is available via the CFAP Application Portal. According to FSA, the online application portal is only available to “producers with secure USDA login credentials—known as eAuthentication.” Producers who do not have an eAuthentication account can begin the enrollment process for eAuthentication here.
Meanwhile, applications may still be submitted via county FSA offices. For further information on submitting a CFAP application via your local Service Center, click here. CFAP applications are due by August 28.