Hoeven Outlines Efforts to Secure Assistance for Ranchers, Ensure Fair & Transparent Pricing

Senator Addresses ND Stockmen’s Association Annual Convention, Introduces USDA Under Secretary Ibach

BISMARCK, N.D. – At the North Dakota Stockmen’s Association annual convention today, Senator John Hoeven outlined his efforts as chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee and a members of the Senate Agriculture Committee to:

  • Assist ranchers with challenges from weather, market conditions and the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) public health emergency.
    • To date, North Dakota’s livestock producers have received more than $144 million in Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) and CFAP 2 payments.
  • Help ensure fair and transparent pricing for the nation’s cattle producers.

Hoeven also introduced U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Greg Ibach, with whom the senator has worked to advance these priorities.

“The U.S. enjoys the most affordable, highest quality food supply in the world, and that’s due to the hard work of our farmers and ranchers, who remain committed to this critical work even in the face of the most challenging circumstances,” Hoeven said. “Our efforts are all about helping our producers to overcome the current difficulties and help ensure a fair and transparent marketplace moving forward. That’s exactly what we’ve worked with the USDA, DOJ and others within the administration to achieve, from the coronavirus assistance we’ve funded to the investigation and legislation we are working to advance to address beef price disparities.”

Securing Agriculture Assistance 

Under the Coronavirus Assistance, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, Hoeven secured $9.5 billion of direct funding to assist farmers and ranchers as well as $14 billion in Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) funding. Hoeven then worked with USDA to advance the initial CFAP payments and to ensure the CCC funding was used for CFAP 2. Following this, the senator secured a full replenishment of the CCC in the continuing resolution recently passed by Congress and signed into law to prevent delays for Farm Bill programs, including the Livestock Forage Program and Livestock Indemnity Program.

At the same time, Hoeven has been holding regular meetings with North Dakota’s producers and commodity groups to facilitate feedback to the administration and ensure the assistance is as effective as possible. During the most recent of these meetings, Hoeven hosted Farm Serve Agency (FSA) Administration Richard Fordyce and reviewed the details of CFAP 2, which provides coverage for non-specialty crops, livestock, dairy and specialty crops.

Specifically, under this program, ranchers will receive$55/head for the highest number of cattle in inventory between April 16 and August 31. Sign-up for the program runs until December 11, 2020.  Additional information on CFAP 2 is available from USDA at www.farmers.gov

Working to Ensure Fair & Transparent Pricing

In addition, Hoeven is advancing the following efforts to support cattle ranchers and improve pricing and transparency in the beef market: 

  • Making the case for the Department of Justice (DOJ) toinvestigate price manipulation in the cattle market. This includes joining Senator Deb Fischer in pressing Attorney General William Barr to investigate suspected price manipulation and anticompetitive behavior in the cattle industry.
    • The DOJ began its inquiry into meatpacking companies earlier this year, and the senator continues urging the administration to exercise its authority to address potential violations of the Packers and Stockyards Act and broader antitrust laws.
  • Stressing the need to include meaningful reforms in Livestock Mandatory Reporting (LMR) reauthorization to Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts.
    • LMR requires meat packers and importers to report to USDA’s Agriculture Marketing Service (AMS) the prices they pay for cattle, hogs and sheep purchased for slaughter, and the prices they receive for meats derived from such species. LMR currently expires on December 11, 2020.

Hoeven highlighted a USDA report released earlier this year, which details disparities between boxed beef and live cattle prices, demonstrates the need for cattle market reforms.