The U.S. Department of Agriculture is getting feedback from local ag groups on how to develop coronavirus aid using $9.5 billion from the recent stimulus package. According to North Dakota Stockmen’s Association Executive Director Julie Ellingson, the program needs to be simple. It could focus on the inventory of cows, feeder cattle, fed cattle and newborn calves wouldn’t be counted as feeders. “We believe this should be a one time, per-head payment based on the qualifying producer’s inventories. We picked the day of February 21,” explained Ellingson. “We identified that as the day where we saw a sharp market response to this crisis. The thought is this will be based on the inventories as of that date.” In an online roundtable discussion with the USDA, Ellingson said there are realized losses in the cattle industry, the ones seen already, but there are losses that are still looming. She also said cow-calf producers should be at the heart of the program. “We suggest looking at a $150 per head payment.” Independent Beef Association of North Dakota President Dwight Keller suggested a program based on sales and a time frame of mid-February. This aid is a blank slate for the cattle industry. Cattle producers, along with specialty crops like potatoes, weren’t included in previous trade aid. The three-hour discussion also included other future aid packages from the USDA. Hear the story.