A bipartisan, bicameral bill was introduced to allow livestock producers flexibility in this uncertain time of low market prices and reduced packing capacity.
The PASTURE (Pandemic Authority Suitable To Utilize Reserve Easements) Act of 2020 was introduced in the House by U.S. Representatives Roger Marshall (R-1st Dist., Kansas) and Angie Craig (D-2nd Dist., MN) and companion legislation was introduced in the Senate by Senators John Thune (R-SD) and Tina Smith (D-MN). This legislation would allow emergency haying and grazing on Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres during the COVID-19 health crisis. Under current statute, emergency CRP haying and grazing is limited to weather-related disaster events.
Representative Marshall said, “I am honored to work with Representative Craig and Senators Thune and Smith on this much needed legislative fix that will provide another opportunity for relief for our ranchers back home. I will continue to do everything I can to help our farm and ranch families overcome the devastating impacts of the coronavirus so they can continue to produce the highest quality, safest, and most affordable food, fiber, and fuel in the world.”
“Our farmers have been hit particularly hard by the economic impacts of COVID-19,” said Representative Craig. “By adding pandemics to CRP emergency flexibility, we are modernizing conservation policy to address the complex emergencies facing our farmers and ranchers. I will always support bipartisan, common sense solutions to help our family farmers and livestock producers in their times of need.”
“We are experiencing a global health pandemic, and farmers and ranchers are feeling the economic impact,” said Thune. “Our bill is straightforward—allowing emergency haying and grazing would help producers ensure adequate forage for the livestock they are having to keep longer than expected due to low prices and meat processing capacity shortfalls resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. My hope is that this will provide our ag economy, South Dakota’s top industry, with much-needed assistance at this time.”
“Opening up CRP land to emergency haying and grazing will help livestock producers in Minnesota and across the country who have been hit hard by the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic,” said Smith. “With these added acres available to them, it will help to soften the devastating economic blow to the livestock industry caused by COVID-19 when meat processing plant and restaurant closures unexpectedly eliminated much of the market for their products.”
The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association applauded the move. The organization and 35 of its state affiliates sent a letter to Congress urging action on this issue in mid-May.
Office of Kansas Congressman Roger Marshall
Office of South Dakota Senator John Thune
Northern Ag Network