In rural states like Nebraska, agriculture is a way of life.

The men and women who dedicate their lives to feeding the world provide a service like no other. For so long, American agriculture has enjoyed unprecedented success, producing food more effectively and efficiently than any other place at any other time in history. In fact, access to quality food has become so commonplace it is often taken for granted. However, in times like these we are reminded of how crucial food production is to the well-being of our country.

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit all of agriculture hard, particularly livestock producers, who are rightfully concerned about the combination of declining prices for the animals they have worked so hard to raise and high prices for processed beef at retail resulting from processing slowdowns and record demand at grocery stores. Our producers work overtime to feed our nation, and they deserve more than our thanks.

The CARES Act, passed by Congress as part of the COVID-19 response, contained needed assistance to livestock producers in the form of replenishing the Commodity Credit Corporation and additional assistance payments to farmers and ranchers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). I have written letters to USDA to ensure these programs meet the needs of both cattle and pork producers in this challenging time.

Last week, I hosted a webinar alongside USDA Undersecretary Greg Ibach and Farm Service Agency Administrator Richard Fordyce, to answer questions from farmers, ranchers, and others throughout the Third District about implementation of these programs. It is important producers know how they can access support during this difficult time, and I am grateful to all those who participated.

President Trump and his administration are taking other actions to support continued protein production. I strongly support President Trump’s decision to issue an Executive Order invoking the Defense Production Act to keep meat processing plants open. This order makes no doubt about how essential meat and poultry are to Americans, eliminating jurisdictional guessing games and allowing USDA to supplement efforts packers have already undertaken to protect their employees. I also support USDA’s expansion of an ongoing investigation into cattle markets to ensure producers aren’t being treated unfairly because of market conditions created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bottom line: We must strengthen and prioritize the producers who continue to ensure a strong food supply. We must always remember our nation’s food comes directly from the extraordinary effort of individuals in the agricultural sector. Rest assured, I will continue working to ensure our producers receive the deserved attention from Washington during this difficult time.

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