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Montana Ag Network report for March 17

Posted at 2:43 PM, Mar 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-17 16:43:20-04

Lane Nordlund has the Montana Ag Network report for Tuesday, March 17, 2020:

#1: Cattle producers across the nation are feeling the impact in the market place in their pocket books all due to the coronavirus.

Colin Woodall, CEO of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) said his association actively working to get to the bottom of the market situation. “We have cattle producers across the country that are losing money,” said Woodall. “And, the question is why? A lot of that, we know, is just the overall mass panic that we are a victim of because we are seeing the same impact that other commodities and other financial markets are and that is because of the panic.”

NCBA is working to identify how to stem livestock losses. One way is to make sure beef gets to the grocery store. “We need to make sure that the product is getting out to the consumer,” said Woodall. “Because we are seeing photographs from grocery stores everywhere where those beef cases have been completely cleaned out. We need to make sure that we're sending a very clear signal to the consumer that there is more coming. It's in the pipeline and we're getting it to you. So that is why all the great work of cattle producers really focused on doing what they do every day is so important. We need to make sure that we continue that effort to ensure that that product can get to those grocery stores.”

NCBA is working with USDA to keep food safety inspectors working to inspect meat. While also ensuring that there is a reliable healthy workforce to process meat to get the product to the store. The U.S. Cattlemen’s Association also sent a letter to USDA calling for a quick return to normalcy to the cattle marketplace and creating a special task force to address the market fallout as a result of the coronavirus.

#2: Could St. Patrick be leading the bears out of the cattle market? All livestock futures have posted aggressive triple-digit gains at this morning’s opening bell. Although a portion of the early buyer support has slowly faded, the focus on increased buyer movement into the market is maintaining higher price levels. The expectation is that without any new information surrounding meat demand or restrictions on businesses or travel, that current gains will hold through most of the day. Cash cattle interest remains quiet Tuesday morning with bids unavailable following light trade Monday.

#3: A bipartisan bill introduced Monday would address livestock industry issues relating to dealer payment default. Republicans, Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, Monday, introduced the Securing All Livestock Equitably, or SALE Act.

The lawmakers say the Act will make sure both livestock dealers and farmers are protected moving forward without negatively impacting their bottom line. Quick turnaround between the purchase and resale of cattle by a dealer often leaves the rancher who originally owned the cattle with little recourse if a dealer defaults on a purchase because the livestock has often already been resold.

The legislation would establish dealer statutory trusts, mimicking existing packer statutory trusts, to ensure cattle sellers receive payment should a livestock dealer become insolvent.

#4: The Conservation Reserve Program Grasslands enrollment is now open. Part of the CRP program, CRP Grasslands helps landowners and operators protect grassland, including rangeland, and pastureland, and certain other lands, while maintaining the areas as grazing lands. The sign-up period for CRP Grasslands in 2020 runs until May 15, 2020.