The National Cattlemen's Beef Association is asking members of the U.S. Senate to oppose an effort to include a dairy buyout in the economic stimulus package. NCBA says the proposal would use taxpayer dollars to raise dairy prices by buying older dairy cows from farmers. That, they say, would take approximately 6.5 billion gallons of milk off the market and result in nearly 320,000 additional head of cattle entering the beef market, which would drastically reduce the price of beef cattle.
"The cattle industry is not subsidized by the government, nor do we wish to be," said NCBA President and Arizona rancher Andy Groseta. "However, we are subject to the unintended consequences of policy directed towards other sectors of agriculture, such as the dairy industry. Flooding the market with beef and driving down the price for our products will be devastating for America's cattle producers."
Cattle producers continue to experience present economic pressures including record-high feed and forage costs which resulted in over $1.5 billion dollars in losses to the feeding sector last year. Those in favor of the buyout say that by using USDA Section 32 funds to buy ground beef they could lessen the impact on the cattle industry, but Groseta points to a similar plan in 1986 that failed to keep the beef market from crashing.
"NCBA does not support utilizing taxpayer dollars to both fund this proposed buy-out and to try and mitigate its ill effects on the cattle business," Groseta said. "This is a flawed proposal and we urge Congress not to include it in the stimulus package."