NCBA’s Lane Discusses Relief Payments, Transition In D.C.

The COVID-19 pandemic hit cattlemen – like all of agriculture – hard. Ethan Lane, vice president of governmental affairs for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) says the group has been pleased with the financial relief provide to cattlemen through the Coronavirus Financial Assistance Program (CFAP).

Speaking to AgriTalk host Chip Flory on Tuesday, Lane said, “for not having played this game before, I think we’ve been relatively pleased with the results.” The CFAP program paid cattlemen more than $4 billion in the first round of relief, and almost $2.8 billion through CFAP2.

“It’s not something we wanted to do, but boy it’s been a lifeline for many producers,” Lane said.

Lane noted that producers were paid $200-plus per head for cattle they owned prior to April 15, 2020, which “could have been a game-changer” for some.

Lane also said NCBA is working to clarify what producers need to do to be eligible for an upcoming package of financial relief that will pay on the April 16 to May 14, 2020, window. Cutting CFAP off at April 15 was detrimental to many stocker and backgrounding operators, and Lane said the next package helps with producers who incurred losses in the weeks following the April 15 cutoff.

The presidential transition occurring this month will also create turnover in the agencies, and “USDA is going to have to juggle that transition,” Lane said. “But we do know there are resources left. So we hope that USDA follows through on Congressional intent and pushes those resources out to the country.”

Lane is optimistic the Biden administration will work with cattle producers. He expects the new administration will be “more focused on issues like climate change, but they also recognize the importance grazing plays in being a solution to climate change, which is music to our ears.”

Lane also acknowledged there will be some difference in perspective on land use and private land rights, “age old clashes that we’ve been working on” for years. The beef industry is “a massive industry that has a tremendous impact and employs a lot of people. And we need to help (the Biden administration) understand how we can fit into that equation. And I think they are open to having that conversation.”

Regarding the presumptive new director at the EPA, Michael Reagan, Lane said many of the cattlemen that have worked with him previously have been outspoken about the fact he is willing to work with cattlemen. We’re going to engage with him and see where he wants to take EPA and some of those rulemakings that have been so pivotal over the last few years.”




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