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Iowa cattlemen send message on federal relief limits

DES MOINES — Some livestock producers in Iowa saw little or no financial aid during the latest round of federal COVID-19 relief payments.

The Iowa Cattlemen’s Association is sending a letter to U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack regarding payment limitations. Cora Fox, the association’s director of government relations, says the U.S.D.A. was slow in putting out additional COVID payments intended for cattle producers and put a limit on them.

Fox says, “Unfortunately, there are producers that carried quite a bit of risk due to their investments and they actually did not receive any additional assistance in this most recent round.” The Cattlemen’s Association said in the letter that it wants the agency to know the payment limitations don’t fit what Congress intended.

“Congress felt that cattle producers were not adequately compensated and that’s why we were explicitly included in that appropriations package,” Fox says. “Congress went as far as to provide the formulas and make stipulations regarding those payments. They did not, however, include a payment limitation.”

Fox says there are many Iowa cattle producers who experienced significant losses and were denied pandemic funds, while others, who had minimal losses, were paid in full. “U.S.D.A. didn’t have any discretionary authority there in interpreting the directive, deciding how much anyone should get paid, anything like that, on a per head basis, yet they’re utilizing a payment limitation from last year,” Fox says. “What it’s done, it’s really missing the mark on a specific group of cattle producers that had significant losses.”

She says several feeder cattle operators who are struggling were completely left out of the aid due to the U.S.D.A. imposed payment limitations.

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