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COVID-19 could have a billion-dollar impact on the cattle industry

Livestock producers may take the economic hit amid the pandemic but experts say the beef supply should be OK.

TEXAS, USA — Texas produces more beef than any other state – and COVID-19 could cost the cattle industry billions of dollars.

A new study commissioned by the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) and conducted by a team of industry-leading agricultural economists found the pandemic will cause a $13.6 billion loss industry-wide, and cow-calf producers could see the biggest part of the hit.

According to the NCBA, the beef supply will be OK but livestock producers will suffer.

The NCBA said that the study shows cow-calf producers will see the largest impact, with coronavirus-related losses totaling an estimated $3.7 billion, or $111.91 per head for each mature breeding animal in the U.S. 

According to the NCBA, without offsetting relief payments, those losses could increase by $135.24 per mature breeding animal, for an additional impact totaling $4.45 billion in the coming years.  

You can read the organization's full report here. 

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"This is one of the most stressful and economically impactful situations we've ever had to deal with," said Ethan Lane with the NCBA. "Getting aid to those producers and ensuring that they get some help during this crisis so that they can come out the other side, able to continue producing beef that everybody loves, has been our top priority."

Lane also said the issue falls into the supply chain area. 

"The packing capacity diminishes if, you know, the 5,000-head-per-day packing plant has to reduce line speed because they have people getting sick. And, so, they're not able to process as many cattle on a given day. That means they're buying less cattle," Lane said. 

The cattle industry has received some assistance, with $19 billion from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Earlier this month, KVUE reported that cattle ranchers are facing an uncertain future and atypical buyers, with some individuals buying beef directly from ranches.

WATCH: How COVID-19 is impacting the Texas meat industry

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