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Nebraska Cattlemen Works Diligently Through COVID-19

Fallout from the current United States COVID-19 pandemic has spanned far beyond the disease itself, bringing economic and financial destruction to the cattle and beef industry. Unfortunately, this is only one year removed from the most devastating natural disaster to hit the state in decades and eight months since the industry experienced an extensive equity drain due to the cattle and beef market disruptions caused by the fire at Tyson’s Holcomb, Kansas beef processing facility.

Given the current situation, your Nebraska Cattlemen staff and leadership are laser focused on finding solutions to help correct the market situation in the short term, but more importantly – focusing on what long term, structural changes can be made to increase transparency and reduce volatility in the cattle markets. Since February 21, 2020, Nebraska dressed steer values have plummeted $20/cwt ($190+/- vs $170+/-), or approximately $185 per head. USDA’s Choice boxed beef index remained virtually unchanged for most of that time frame but has skyrocketed higher by $18.35/cwt over the past two business days as cash fed cattle values have seen continued pressure.

“Nebraska Cattlemen recognizes the fact that if the entire cost of these market disruptions continues to be borne exclusively by the production sectors of the beef industry, it may cause the quality of our beef to decrease. Also, if this unforeseen pandemic event results in yet another deep and extended movement of equity away from producers and to entities farther down the beef production chain, then there will certainly be less producers, less cattle, and less beef available at some point moving forward,” said Ken Herz, Nebraska Cattlemen president.

NC continues to convey the needs of our members and the beef industry to the highest levels of government during this time of crisis. From conversations with Governor Ricketts regarding the importance of keeping the beef supply chain working smoothly in terms of the harvest of fed cattle supply to members of Nebraska’s congressional delegation regarding the current market situation, your voice is heard. Additionally, NC leadership and staff have been in continued conversations with USDA/AMS regarding their plans to ensure that USDA inspectors do not become a limiting factor in keeping packing and processing plants from operating.

In our members’ best interest, NC has requested that AMS/P&SD increase their vigilance and surveillance throughout the cattle and beef marketing chains to guard against market manipulation and price gouging.

Nebraska Cattlemen staff and leadership remain committed to our members. Please know we are working diligently to find solutions to the current situation while keeping our long-term focus on improving market transparency and reducing market volatility. We will continue to keep you up to date as more information becomes available.

—Nebraska Cattlemen




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