Fischer, Wyden, Hartzler introduce cattle market bill
Sens. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., on Tuesday introduced the Cattle Market Transparency Act of 2021, which would establish regional cash minimums and equip producers with more market information.
“I am reintroducing this bill with bipartisan support. It will help facilitate price discovery and provide cattle producers with the information they need to make informed marketing decisions. I am committed to working across the aisle to advance the bill forward this Congress,” said Fischer in a news release.
“This detailed and common-sense bipartisan bill would provide our state’s rural producers the transparency and accountability they need to negotiate fair prices, stay in business and continue generating jobs throughout Oregon,” Wyden said in a joint news release with Fischer.
Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo., is introducing companion legislation in the House.
The American Farm Bureau Federation endorsed the bill.
“America’s ranchers don’t control the prices they are paid for their products, and those raising livestock have legitimate questions about pricing. When the pandemic hit, meat prices at grocery stores went up while the prices paid to farmers fell through the floor. This legislation will ensure farmers and ranchers have fair access to markets and are fully informed on pricing so they can continue to put food on the table in homes across the country. We appreciate Sen. Fischer and Sen. Wyden for introducing the Cattle Market Transparency Act of 2021 and look forward to working with members of the House on a companion bill introduction,” said American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall.
Fischer and Wyden said that the bill would:
▪ Establish regional mandatory minimum thresholds of negotiated cash and negotiated grid trades to enable price discovery in cattle marketing regions. It will require the secretary of agriculture, in consultation with the chief economist, to establish regionally sufficient levels of negotiated cash and negotiated grid trade, seek public comment on those levels, then implement.
▪ Require USDA to create and maintain a publicly available library of marketing contracts between packers and producers in a manner that ensures confidentiality.
▪ Mandate that a packer report to USDA the number of cattle scheduled to be delivered for slaughter each day for the next 14 days and require USDA to report this information on a daily basis.
▪ Prohibit USDA from using confidentiality as a justification for not reporting and make clear that USDA must report all LMR information, and it must do so in a manner that ensures confidentiality.
United States Cattlemen’s Association President Brooke Miller said, “USCA applauds Sens. Fischer and Wyden for bringing forth a dynamic piece of legislation for a dynamic industry. The current conversations on increasing transparency and price discovery in the cattle marketplace began at the 2020 Winter Thaw in Billings, Mont., where USCA brought together industry leaders to brainstorm solutions to a thinning cash market. Those solutions are incorporated within the Cattle Market Transparency Act, and USCA stands ready to see this piece of legislation through to the finish line.”
The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association said it “welcomes discussion” on the Cattle Market Transparency Act.
“Cattle producers continue to face serious obstacles when it comes to increasing profitability and gaining leverage in the marketplace,” said NCBA Vice President of Government Affairs Ethan Lane. “Leveling the playing field and putting more of the beef dollar in producer pockets remains the top priority of this association. NCBA shares Sen. Fischer’s objectives, as do its affiliates and indeed the entire industry. The best way to achieve those objectives, however, continues to be hotly debated by the very cattle producers this legislation would directly impact. We have worked and will continue to work alongside our affiliates, Congress, and USDA toward regionally robust negotiated trade, the establishment of a cattle contract library, and common sense in USDA’s rules of confidentiality by taking direction from our membership through the grassroots policy process.”
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