“From the Panhandle of Western Oklahoma to the woods of Northeast Oklahoma, Oklahoma is Trump Country. I’m excited President Trump and the Trump Campaign will be making a stop in Tulsa- it’s sure to be a campaign rally Oklahomans won’t want to miss,” said Lucas.

President Trump’s re-election campaign announced that Trump 2020 Senior Advisor Lara Trump, Trump 2020 Campaign Manager Brad Parscale, and National Chair of Trump Victory Finance Committee and Trump 2020 Senior Advisor Kimberly Guilfoyle will lead a group of over 50 surrogates, including Congressman Frank Lucas, to campaign on behalf of President Trump in Oklahoma on Saturday, June 20, 2020 at the Make America Great Again Rally.

 

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U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK) joined 50 Republican colleagues in requesting that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) immediately allow cattle producers that sold cattle after April 15 to be deemed eligible for Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) payments for those sales.

“Congress has entrusted you with significant resources to support agricultural producers affected by COVID-19,” Rep. Lucas and the members wrote in a May 29 letter sent to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue. “We are disappointed that the current rollout appears to significantly miss the mark for many impacted cattle producers, and we implore you to provide flexibility to address this shortcoming immediately.”

Rep. Lucas and the lawmakers, who represent the nation’s cattle-producing districts, also requested that USDA provide a detailed explanation and the methodology used in the selection of the date to differentiate between CFAP payments for sales and CFAP payments for inventory, according to their letter.

“The details included in the May 19 announcement of CFAP create significant disparities for many cattle producers, particularly those who sold their animals after April 15,” they wrote. “For producers who have marketed cattle since April 15, USDA’s choice of that particular date is potentially devastating to their operations.”

For instance, the spring sale of calves for some cow/calf and stocker producers is the only income from their cattle herd for the year, and any who sold after April 15 are immediately harmed by USDA’s program design, wrote the lawmakers.

Many small farmer-feeders are similarly harmed by USDA’s choice of an April 15 date for CFAP, according to their letter, which noted that the COVID-19 related closures at packing plants already has dramatically reduced U.S. cattle slaughter capacity and forced many small farmer-feeder operations to hold market-ready cattle for an extended time or sell those cattle at lower prices after the April 15 CFAP date as soon as slaughter capacity is available for those animals.

“Producers who sold at prices lowered as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic should be eligible for USDA’s response in CFAP, regardless of if those sales were before or after an arbitrary April 15 date,” wrote Rep. Lucas and his colleagues.

Congressman Frank Lucas, R-OK, wants answers for his cattlemen constituents. And he’s not alone.

On May 1, Lucas delivered a bipartisan letter, signed by 24 of his House colleagues, to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. The letter “politely and firmly” requests the findings of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Packers and Stockyards investigation into the divergence between live cattle and boxed beef prices that it began in August 2019.

The investigation originally was limited to the price divergence following the fire in the Tyson Fresh Meats plant in Holcomb, Kansas, in 2019. Just the past month the scope was broadened to include the recent price divergence that’s occurring in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lucas has particular knowledge of the cattle industry. He and his wife, Lynda, are cow-calf operators in Oklahoma, and his constituents are largely cattlemen as well. The price situation as it stands is very critical for cattlemen, he emphasized. From January to April, cattlemen have seen cattle futures falling 29%, all while the price of beef that consumers paid rose.

“It is a life or death economic situation right now for cow-calf producers,” Lucas said. Maintaining the very beginning of the beef chain is key to keeping cattle going into feedlots and then into processing and ultimately on the consumer’s plate. If producers are unable to stay in business, it puts the whole chain in peril.

“The letter I’ve authored and sent to Sec. Perdue, and we’re soliciting signatures from both House Republican and House Democratic colleagues, first thanks USDA for its work up to this point,” Lucas said. “The MFP (Market Facilitation Program) and disaster money that it’s hopefully allocating in May we hope a big chunk will go to the cattle producer.” But, he said, for the second time in just a few years, cattlemen are finding themselves in the same position with this disconnect between cattle prices paid at the plant door for cattle on the hoof, and what that same packer gets for boxed beef sold to retailers.

The situation is complex, to be sure, but there’s added concern over the role of the futures market in the situation. Speculators and investors play a key role in the cattle futures markets. If they pull their money out of the futures, that can have as dramatic of an effect on the price of cattle as when investors pulled their money out of the stock market in the last month.

“As one cattlemen told me, ‘if we don’t have someone willing to buy our hedges, we don’t have the ability to hedge,’” Lucas said. While USDA is working with the Commodities Futures Trading Commission to address the situation, there needs to be more insight into the relationship between cattle spot and futures markets. Volatility during a pandemic “has made market participation difficult to manage and capital intensive.”

Without the findings of the investigation, Lucas’s hands and those of his colleagues are tied in being able to make any laws that would fix the situation. The letter is urging the USDA to release its findings as soon as possible, in order for the situation to be addressed by Capitol Hill, and ultimately bring trust back into the markets.

Today I filed for re-election to continue to serve as your Representative of Oklahoma’s Third Congressional District. Serving as the voice for rural Oklahoma has been the honor of a lifetime. As the former Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee and the top Republican on the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, I’ll ensure the conservative values of Oklahoma are not lost upon those in Washington, D.C. Oklahoma’s prosperity has made tremendous bounds since many of our families first settled, but we still have work to do to ensure a better future for our children and their children’s children.

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