USCA: Prioritize the U.S. Beef and Cattle Industry
(WASHINGTON) – On Wednesday, the United States
Cattlemen’s Association (USCA) sent a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue
urging the prioritization of the U.S. beef and cattle industry over foreign
product during the COVID-19 pandemic.
USCA President Brooke Miller issued the following statement to accompany the letter:
“If bold and immediate action is not taken in the coming weeks, we will witness a mass liquidation in the livestock sector that will take more than a decade of recovery; or instead of the recovery of our industry, we will be forced to import our food like we do everything else. As outlined in our letter, there is not a cattle shortage in this country, and we need to utilize our current domestic supply before turning to foreign beef or cattle.
“Further, we call on the President to establish an emergency work force to return to full operational capacity in U.S. meatpacking plants. With the high unemployment rates we are seeing during this crisis, as well as shortages at the meat counter due to panic-buying, a wartime-like effort is needed to keep Americans fed and to ensure the longevity of US livestock producers. While this pandemic is affecting every American today, action is needed now to ensure the ramifications won't be felt for years to come. A safe and abundant food supply is something that all Americans have come to depend on, and we must continue to look at all possible solutions to ensure this is the case for generations to come.”
Copy of Letter Below
Dear Secretary Perdue;
As the U.S. beef and cattle industry endeavors to supply the nation with an affordable, abundant protein supply, the United States Cattlemen’s Association (USCA) requests action be taken immediately to support domestic production to the fullest extent possible. A wartime effort is needed to continue putting American food on American plates during these historic times. To that effect, we ask that the U.S. Department of Agriculture work with meatpackers to ensure preference is given to procuring cattle that have been born and raised in the U.S.
Reports of a nationwide meat shortage have monopolized media coverage, but the reality is, we have plenty of cattle ready to move through the supply chain. In some parts of the U.S., producers are facing unimaginable decisions on what to do with their surplus of animals. The industry is facing nearly five weeks of backlogs and slowdowns, with less than 500,000 federally inspected cattle being slaughtered each week. For every week that this occurs, it is estimated that 150,000 to 240,000 cattle will be carried forward.1 Further, historically low prices plague the industry despite a high demand for their product in retail stores. To restore balance in the marketplace, U.S. meatpackers should prioritize slaughtering and processing domestic cattle before imported cattle or beef.
USCA is appreciative of President Donald J. Trump’s decision to step in and ensure the safety and security of the food supply chain through the Defense Production Act. In his executive order, the President declares that the “Secretary of Agriculture shall use the authority under section 101 of the Act…to determine the proper nationwide priorities and allocation of all the materials, services, and facilities necessary to ensure the continued supply of meat and poultry.”
It is our belief that this request falls under the Secretary’s authority “to determine the proper nationwide priorities and allocation” to ensure continuity of the U.S. meat and poultry supply. The President’s utilization of a wartime clause proves what U.S. producers already know – we need bold and immediate action from our nation’s leaders.
Thank you for your consideration of this matter.
Dr. Brooke Miller, M.D.
President, United States Cattlemen’s Association
1 Fish, C. (2020, 05 05). The Beef Read. Retrieved from https://www.thebeefread.com/2020/05/05/production-challenges-persist/