Several provisions in the government spending and COVID-19 relief package signed by President Donald Trump will benefit cattle producers and the industry.
The bill includes $1.4 trillion in government spending and $900 billion for pandemic relief.
The relief portion of the bill includes $11 billion for USDA to prevent, prepare for and respond to COVID by providing support to agricultural producers. It includes additional funding for cattle producers, said Danielle Beck, senior executive director of government affairs for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.
Cattle producers received payments from earlier pandemic relief approved by Congress through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act. The first was for losses from Jan. 15 through April 15. The second was an inventory payment, which NCBA said fell short of covering all losses.
The third payment is for losses incurred from April 16 through May 14, Beck said in the latest “Beltway Beef” podcast.
“It’s really intended to provide assistance to those producers who were really left out in the cold after that April 15 cutoff date,” she said.
The additional payment will be based on what producers previously received, she said.
“So this is some targeted relief that we’ve really been asking for way back when the CARES Act was enacted,” she said.
Another big win for cattle producers and NCBA was the inclusion of provisions proposed in the Requiring Assistance to Meat Processors for Upgrading Plants, known as the RAMP-UP Act.
The COVID relief portion of the bill provides $60 million for USDA grants to meat and poultry processors to upgrade their facilities to become part of the federal inspection system to be able to sell across state lines, she said.
“That’s, I think, tremendous when it comes to increasing competition in the packing sector,” she said.
It would allow more market access, allow custom products to make their way into new markets and, hopefully, provide more hook space, she said.
“These grants getting out the door sooner rather than later are going to help us out quickly and make changes, much-needed changes, sooner,” she said.
USDA is also required to work with states to improve the existing Cooperative Interstate Shipping program. It is also required to conduct a report on the availability of financing for new and existing meat and poultry processing capacity, she said.
The bill also includes $284 billion in a second round of Paycheck Protection Program loans that simplifies the forgiveness process for loans under $150,000, she said.
“More importantly, the bill specifies that forgiven PPP loans will not be included in taxable income,” she said.
In addition, the bill clarifies deductions are allowed for expenses paid with the proceeds from a PPP loan, she said.
The relief portion of the package also ensures livestock producers are paid for their animals by requiring dealer trusts.
The spending portion of the package extends the exemption on electronic logging devices for livestock haulers through Sept. 30. It also extends livestock mandatory price reporting through Sept. 30 and renews exemptions for livestock producers from EPA greenhouse gas reporting for FY 21.