Funding for Livestock in End of Year Spending Bill
In the recently approved appropriations and $900 billion COVID-19 relief bill, there were several areas of importance for those in agriculture and livestock. The current global pandemic has taken a toll on the agricultural industry, so these new funding opportunities should help farmers and ranchers get back on their feet.
The approved bill expanded resources, $60 million, for small, state-inspected meat processors through the addition of the Requiring Assistance to Meat Processors for Upgrading Plants Act (RAMP UP), which assists meat and poultry slaughtering and processing facilities with making improvements to allow for interstate shipment. The bipartisan RAMP UP act was previously introduced by Frank Lucas (R-OK), Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), and Collin Peterson (D-MN). “The RAMP-UP Act gives small and medium sized processors the tools they need to become federally-inspected facilities, expanding their customer base, while helping meet the demands of consumers,” Lucas said. “While we’ve come to rely on fewer and larger processors, the RAMP-UP Act will undoubtedly bolster the meat supply chain for producers and consumers alike.”
“Local meat processors across the country continue to be severely backlogged due to COVID-19. NCBA has advocated relentlessly for passage of the RAMP UP Act, which allocates federal grant dollars to these small businesses – the modified version of this bill included in the House package allows local processors to take advantage of interstate retail channels and provide greater market access, ensuring beef always remains in stock,” said The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s Vice President Ethan Lane, in a press release.
A total of $20 million was allocated to the National Animal Health Laboratory Network. “We are thankful for several vital provisions in the bill, including strengthening biosecurity at our borders to keep foreign animal diseases (FAD) outside the country,” said National Pork Producers Council’s (NPPC) President Howard “AV” Roth. “If a FAD were to enter the U.S. swine herd, the consequences would be disastrous, and a devastating blow to hog farmers already teetering on the financial edge due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.” The bill additionally provided strong funding for Chronic Wasting Disease management through the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Services (APHIS) and state wildlife and state departments of agriculture.
The package also included an extension of the Livestock Mandatory Reporting Act authority through September 30, 2021, to allow USDA to continue publishing reports on prices paid for cattle, swine, and sheep, and meats derived from this livestock to facilitate informed marketing decisions. The USDA is to also review the impact of waivers granted for increasing the speed at which animals are killed at slaughter plants and report back to Congress within 90 days. Lastly, the bill authorized a dealer’s trust to benefit unpaid sellers of livestock.