News Releases

Date: 8/3/2006

Title: Key Senators Urge Tax Relief for Drought-Stricken Cattlemen

WASHINGTON - As Americans across the nation deal with a late summer heat wave, cattle producers are dealing with drought and wildfire conditions that have wreaked havoc on their family-owned businesses for years. “In many areas of the country, there’s simply no grass for the cattle to eat.  Ponds have dried up and water supplies are scarce, so there’s no water for them to drink,” says Jason Jordan, manager of legislative affairs for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA). 

“Cattle producers have to liquidate their herds quickly which is hampering the profitability of their businesses.  To make matters worse, many cattlemen have been dealing with this situation for years.” 

NCBA continues to work to support cattlemen suffering from drought-related conditions.  In response to those efforts, Senator Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) and 14 of his colleagues sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson requesting that he extend the tax relief for ranchers who were forced to sell off large portions of their breeding stock as a result of drought conditions during 2002.

The letter was also signed by Senators Wayne Allard (R-Colo.), Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Christopher Bond (R-Mo.), Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), Conrad Burns (R-Mont.), Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), Michael Enzi (R-Wyo.), Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Ken Salazar (D-Colo.), Jim Talent (R-Mo.), Craig Thomas (R-Wyo.), and John Thune (R-S.D.). Previous NCBA efforts resulted in passage of the American Jobs Creation Act of 2003 which contained a provision to amend Section 1033 (e) of the Uniform Tax Code.  This amendment extended the tax deferment period for weather-related sales of livestock, known as involuntary conversions, from two years to four years. 

The amendment also stipulated that the Secretary of the Treasury could further extend the deferral period.   “A further extension of this deferment period is important to the producers in our states who continue to suffer from the devastating effects of drought,” said the bi-partisan group of Senators.

NCBA says extending the tax deferment period will allow producers to replace the animals they were forced to sell in 2002 at a more feasible time.  “If ranchers were forced to restock their herds now – during our current drought – many would be forced to sell them again quickly because there is no way to keep cattle on the ranch without feed or water,” says Jordan. 

The current drought conditions are expected to affect cattlemen through the winter and into the spring next year because of reduced hay supplies.  “We’ve got a situation where you can’t get your hands on hay, and if you can, hay prices are sky-high,” says NCBA’s Chief Economist Gregg Doud.  “But this also has a long-term effect because folks can’t expand their herds and grow their businesses.  It’s definitely a time when ranchers are cutting back – not expanding.”

NCBA applauds these Senators for their efforts to support U.S. beef producers and is eager to see the Treasury Department take action on this request.  Member-driven policy of NCBA supports drought and disaster relief for American beef producers when they are hit by unforeseen natural disasters, and the organization will continue its fight for meaningful drought relief. 

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Mark Spurgin
Nebraska Rancher