Feedlot cattle

The South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association’s board of directors addressed cattle markets and coronavirus-related assistance programs during a meeting last week in Pierre.

Addressing the hurdles to shipping state-inspected beef products across state lines has become a priority for the cattlemen's association. South Dakota has state meat inspection programs that have been deemed equivalent to federal inspections, but it is still not permitted to ship beef products across state lines, president Eric Jennings noted. the association hopes to streamlining current regulations to allow for direct beef sales without sacrificing food safety.

"We believe this will expand profit opportunities for our members while also potentially encouraging the development of additional small harvest facilities,” Jennings said in a news release.

In discussing federal assistance programs with the state's Congressional delegation, board members said the new Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, or CFAP, has created winners and losers among beef industry participants.

“While we appreciate Congress working quickly to get some financial relief to beef producers, CFAP needs to go farther to provide relief to producers who marketed fat cattle after April 15 and producers who were unable to deliver fat cattle prior to or after April 15 because of packing plant closures or slow-downs,” Jennings said.

“While it’s true many cow-calf producers haven’t been significantly impacted yet by the struggling markets, SDCA believes the cattle markets will continue to feel the negative impact of the pandemic throughout the remainder of 2020, and we hope Congress will seek to incorporate continued financial aid for beef producers while the industry works our way through these ongoing market challenges,” he added.

Board members also discussed the pros and cons of proposed cattle market mandates.

“COVID-19 has exposed and spotlighted several issues within the beef industry, the lack of negotiated trade and reported negotiated trade being two main ones,” Jennings said. “Our board of directors is acutely aware of the pain the current market situation is causing feeding operations. We are also committed to fully fleshing out the issues, as well as developing a full understanding of the proposed solutions, to determine the long-term effects of each proposal.”

The board agreed the best vehicle for improving price discovery would likely be through enhancements to Livestock Mandatory Reporting (LMR) requirements, which are set to expire Sept. 30.

"We remain focused on solutions that provide better price discovery through enhanced reporting without infringing on our members’ options for marketing their cattle,” said Jodie Anderson, the cattlemen's association's executive director.

The board expressed support of legislation to clarify the pandemic is a disaster for purposes of releasing CRP for emergency haying and grazing and encouraged the state's Congressional delegation to remain focused on a permanent solution to allow cover crops to be used on prevent plant acres.

Board members also shared serious concerns with the delegation regarding the recent outcry to reinstate mandatory Country of Origin Labeling (COOL), saying that mCOOL would have a negative impact on on existing trade agreements and it would make it difficult to establish a meaningful COOL program without a robust animal traceability program.