The drop in beef prices brought on by the discovery of “Mad Cow Disease” in the United States has some wondering if there’ll be some type of relief program for cattle producers. Iowa State University extension economist John Lawrence says you shouldn’t hold your breath waiting — but should hold your receipts. He says so far just a few presidential hopefuls have talked about such a program. Even if the government considers such a program, he says it would be several months before it ever got underway. Lawrence says the best thing for producers to do is to go ahead and sell cattle, but keep all your records. Lawrence is also the director of the Iowa Beef Center and says the records are the key to getting compensation if it’s offered. He says if there is a program, he believes it would be retroactive to when the cow was discovered in December, and you would need your records to be able to fill out any application. Lawrence says not everyone thinks relief from the disease that’s formally known as B-S-E is needed. He says some argue that B-S-E giveth, and B-S-E taketh away, as he says they say U.S. producers benefited from higher prices when B-S-E was found in a Canadian cow. Prices then dropped when the disease was found on the other side of the border. But Lawrence says this type of program is not uncommon in agriculture. He says we often have a disaster program for a natural disaster like a drought or flood that offers low interest loans or other assistance. Lawrence says it all depends on how long the concern lasts and how big the impact is in the long term. He says if it lingers on for several months and prices remain low, and it impacts a lot of people, that would be a different story. Lawrence says the main thing is to not delay your decisions to wait for government action, because that action is too much of an unknown.
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