WASHINGTON – Last week, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) sent letters to the US Department of Agriculture and the US Small Business Administration seeking financial assistance for cattle producers affected by the bankruptcy of Eastern Livestock Company LLC.

On or around Nov. 3, 2010, Eastern, a company based in New Albany, Ind., that bought and sold cattle in 11 states across the Mid-South, Midwest and West, allegedly began issuing unfunded checks to cattle producers and livestock market operators. According to USDA’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA), Eastern owes more than $130 million to 743 sellers in 30 states.

NCBA requested USDA provide emergency access to short-term, low-interest and/or government-backed loan programs. NCBA also requested a list of SBA loan programs that may help producers finance their family farms and market operations.

“Hundreds of cattle producers and marketers, through no fault of their own, have been financially harmed by Eastern’s bankruptcy,” said NCBA President Steve Foglesong. “We know Eastern may owe more than $130 million to producers and without some short-term financial assistance, in the means of low-interest or government-backed loans, many operations may be forced to shut down or sell off assets to cover costs. NCBA simply isn’t willing to let that happen.”

NCBA’s letter states, “Eastern Livestock Company LLC is going through bankruptcy proceedings, however, we have cattle producers and livestock market operators across the country that have still not received any sort of payment for their cattle. The bond, as required by the USDA’s GIPSA, was nearly $800,000, but this was woefully inadequate to cover its obligations.”

"We are hopeful USDA and SBA will seriously consider our request,” Foglesong said. “We’re not asking for a government handout but rather for responsible financial assistance to cattle producers who are facing severe financial strains no fault of their own. We request USDA and SBA to expedite the loan process, and we look forward to continuing to work with all involved in this issue until it is resolved.”