Ranch group urges opening of CRP lands to slow cattle supply chain

Staff reports
Farm Forum

BILLINGS, Mont. — On May 13, R-CALF USA sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue asking the secretary to consider opening the 24 million acres of land enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) to help alleviate the backlog in the live cattle supply chain caused by the COVID-19 pandemic that has reduced slaughter capacity.

The group estimates there are 500K or more fed cattle currently backed up in feedlots with no immediate prospects for harvest. It states the industry may be able to eliminate any present or future need to euthanize any cattle prior to their scheduled harvest by slowing down the entire upstream segment of the live cattle supply chain.

The letter states that by opening CRP lands to emergency grazing, America's cow/calf producers, backgrounders, and stockers can potentially slow the live cattle supply chain long enough for the bottleneck between the feedlots and packers to be eased.

The letter states that the industry is faced with the urgent need for more grazing land than normal at the same time that some grazing lands are producing less forage than normal due to drought.

"An immediate solution to this challenge would be to open CRP lands for emergency grazing and making accommodations so non-CRP landowners can rent CRP land from others for a reasonable fee," the group stated.