WASHINGTON – The House of Representatives’ Agriculture Committee Chairman David Scott (D-Ga.) introduced new legislation that would center on small cattle operations.

The Small Family Farmer and Rancher Relief Act aims to make the Livestock Risk Protection Insurance program (LRP) work for cattle producers that have a premium subsidy and who market 100 or fewer head of cattle per year.

The proposed law would also create the Beef Cattle Spread Coverage Program, which provides help to cattlemen when farmers’ share of the retail dollar drops below 51.7%.

“As I have said time and again, it is a crisis in this nation that we have lost an average of 17,000 cattle ranchers per year,” Scott said in his announcement. “The drivers of this loss are complex and multi-faceted, and I applaud many of the efforts my colleagues have taken to try and improve the cattle industry.”

The legislation would generate a Small Rancher Market Access competitive grant program run through the Agricultural Market Service. The money would be used for a cooperative and small producer to market meat in local and regional areas.

“While their legislative proposals tackle issues like consolidation and transparency, I have not seen enough emphasis on direct help for our small farmers and ranchers,” Scott said. “The Small Family Farmer and Rancher Relief Act that I introduced today does just that.”

After the announcement of Scott’s legislation, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association shared its thoughts on the initial draft.

“NCBA is committed to working with the House Agriculture Committee to protect our most vulnerable producers, and we appreciate the Chairman’s attention on this important issue,” said Ethan Lane, vice president of government affairs at NCBA. “Unfortunately, H.R. 8590, the Small Family Farmer and Rancher Relief Act, as introduced prompts more questions than it provides answers. While collectively we would have preferred to provide input into the drafting of this legislation, we look forward to working with our partners in the livestock community to address the blind spots in this proposal.”