Cattle early spring

DENVER, Colo. — A study released April 14 estimates cattle industry losses as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic will reach $13.6 billion.

The study was commissioned by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and conducted by a team of agricultural economists led by Derrell Peel, professor of agribusiness and Extension livestock marketing economist at Oklahoma State University, to assist the USDA in determining how to allocate CARES Act relief funds to producers.

The study shows cow-calf producers will see the largest impact, with COVID-19-related losses totaling an estimated $3.7 billion, or $111.91 per head for each mature breeding animal in the United States, according to an NCBA news release.

Without offsetting relief payments, those losses could increase by $135.24 per mature breeding animal, for an additional impact totaling $4.45 billion in the coming years.

Stocker/backgrounder segment losses were estimated at $159.98 per head, for a total economic impact of $2.5 billion in 2020, while feeding sector losses were estimated at $3 billion or $205.96 per head.

“This study confirms that cattle producers have suffered massive economic damage as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak and those losses will continue to mount for years to come, driving many producers to the brink of collapse and beyond if relief funds aren’t made available soon,” said NCBA CEO Colin Woodall.

“This study also clearly illustrates the fact that while the relief funds provided by Congress were a good first step, there remains a massive need for more funding to be allocated as soon as members of Congress reconvene.”

Woodall said relief funds that were meant to provide aid directly to cattle producers were divided among multiple commodities, many of which already have government programs in place to support production.

“It’s only because of the extraordinary circumstances we face today that cattle producers need relief,” he said.

“While we appreciate the many members of Congress who supported the cattle industry and ensured cattle producers were eligible for relief funds, we need these same members to do more to make certain every cattle producer who needs relief can access funding. That’s why we’re calling today for additional funds to be made available specifically for cattlemen and women.”

The current situation is fluid and additional damages are likely, the group said.