Iowa cattlemen write Congressional delegation asking for assistance


Friday morning, the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association sent a letter addressed to the U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and the state’s Congressional delegation asking for a stimulus package.

The organization cited the price of boxed beef rising while fed cattle trade and live cattle futures market have dropped sharply at the same time as its main reason for concern. The ICA also said it had concerns over future beef demand, availability of feedstuffs, and potential processing disruptions.

The ICA has been in daily contact with a number of a federal and state agencies to address these issues.

You can read the full letter below:

Dear Senator Grassley and Senator Ernst,

While COVID-19 is affecting many people worldwide, our focus at the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association is on how it has (and will continue to) affect Iowa’s cattle producers. The short-term effects on the cattle markets have been extreme by all accounts, and the long-term effects are uncertain.

Iowa is a major beef producing state with over 25,000 beef producers and nearly 4 million head of cattle as of January 1, 2020. The beef cattle industry greatly contributes to Iowa’s economy by generating approximately $4 billion in cash receipts for cattle and calves, equal to nearly 15 percent of all Iowa agricultural cash receipts. Agriculture, including beef production, is the lifeblood of our state.

The COVID-19 national emergency has affected our U.S. cattle markets for several weeks now, most significantly between March 12, 2020 and March 18, 2020. According to U.S. Department of Agriculture reports, boxed beef cutout values added nearly $40-rising to levels not seen since shortly after the Holcomb plant fire last August.

While demand indicators currently appear strong, price support in the fed cattle trade and live cattle futures trade has drastically fallen. With live cattle futures experiencing sharp decline-hitting 10-year lows-and boxed beef on the rise, many Iowa cattlemen find themselves questioning how long they can weather the current losses. While the overall impact of COVID-19 on the beef cattle industry is unclear, it seems clear to producers that there is a stark contrast between their livelihoods as price-takers, and that of the price-makers.

For the sake of our beef producers, rural economies, and food security, it is of the utmost importance that all segments of the beef supply chain continue to operate as normally as possible. From feed supplies to harvest and processing, there are many factors required for the production of beef and the solvency of our industry.

As our government works to mitigate the issues caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association asks that the current and future needs of beef producers are taken into consideration. Specifically, we are requesting stimulus solutions to protect the long-term viability of our family-run operations, which support our local, state, and national economies. Furthermore, we encourage you to monitor market participation for anti-competitive practices (past and future) and look for your support of solutions that will improve transparency and price discovery for all in the U.S. cattle markets.

Thank you for your continued support of the beef cattle industry. As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to unfold, we stand ready to assist in any way possible.


Richard Godfrey

Iowa Cattlemen’s Association President