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Iowa lawmakers push to include custom cattle feeders in COVID relief program

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Posted at 3:28 PM, Feb 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-24 16:28:46-05

WASHINGTON (KMTV) - Iowa’s congressional delegation is asking U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to adjust the eligibility of the department’s coronavirus relief programs to include custom cattle feeders, a sector of the state’s agricultural economy mostly run by family farmers.

In a letter, Senators Chuck Grassley, Joni Ernst and Representatives Cindy Axne, Randy Feenstra, Ashley Hinson, and Mariannette Miller-Meeks pointed out the exclusion of custom cattle feeders from the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP).

“While we appreciate USDA’s commitment to assisting much of the beef cattle industry, it’s been brought to our attention that USDA did not include assistance for custom cattle feeders. Custom feeding is an important part of Iowa's cattle industry,” the members wrote. “In Iowa, nearly all custom feedyards are owned and operated by farm families. Many of these custom cattle feeders have been unable to conduct business as usual due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with yards sitting empty or at low capacity….To assist custom cattle feeders during this difficult time, we request that USDA include custom cattle feeders as part of any upcoming assistance plans.”

Iowa’s congressional delegation also stressed the ability of custom cattle feeders to meet the same loss requirements that swine and poultry growers had to meet in previous rounds of CFAP.

USDA froze additional CFAP payments last month to conduct a review of the program, including its payments and eligibility.

In 2020, the two rounds of CFAP assistance provided over $2.1 billion in assistance to Iowa farmers, growers, and producers. USDA approved over 113,000 applications from Iowa for CFAP aid.

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