WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) are announcing growing support for the Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act.
The senators introduced the bill today along with Sens. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Mike Braun (R-Ind.) and Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), and Ben Ray Lujan (D-N.M.).
“Now is the time to advance our bipartisan solution that will ensure every segment of the beef supply chain has the opportunity to succeed. Ag producers across this country rely on robust negotiated cash sales because they are building blocks of price discovery no matter what region of the country you are in. Our proposal makes important market reforms to prevent certain regions of the country from shouldering the burden of cash sales. I am pleased to have growing support for our legislation and I am fully committed to getting this done,” said Senator Fischer, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee.
“I frequently hear from Iowa’s independent cattle producers about their struggle to get a fair price for their cattle while the nation’s four largest packers operate in the shadows. I pushed for hearings in the Senate’s Agriculture and Judiciary committees to shine a light on the market unfairness and now have partnered with a bipartisan group of senators to develop a solution. Our proposal takes several steps to improve cattle price transparency and will make much-needed market reforms to help independent producers in Iowa and across the country. This bipartisan bill is the best opportunity we have to make real reform in the cattle market this year and I’ll continue to work with my colleagues to get this across the finish line,” said Senator Grassley, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee and ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“Consolidation and a lack of transparency in the meatpacking industry have driven up costs for consumers, and lowered margins for Montana’s cow calf operators. This legislation will help feeders and producers get fairer prices through cash negotiations, and will shed light on all cattle transactions in a highly consolidated market. Fairer prices and increased transparency are how we lower consumer costs and ensure that Montana’s producers are getting a fair shake,” said Senator Tester.
“Despite the important role family ranchers in Oregon play in keeping their local economies going and making sure families across America have access to good, quality beef, the cattle market is unfairly tilted to deliver big for corporate meat packers and leave family ranchers behind. It’s time to restore market fairness, efficiency and transparency so family ranchers like the ones in my state can grow their small businesses and keep affordable, quality food on the tables of Americans everywhere,” said Senator Wyden.
The Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act will:
Establish regional mandatory minimum thresholds of negotiated cash and negotiated grid trades based on each region’s 18-month average trade to enable price discovery in cattle marketing regions. In order to establish regionally sufficient levels of negotiated cash and negotiated grid trade, the Secretary of Agriculture, in consultation with the Chief Economist, would seek public comment on those levels, set the minimums, and then implement them. No regional minimum level can be more than three times that of the lowest regional minimum, and no regional minimum can be lower than the 18-month average trade at the time the bill is enacted.
Require the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to create and maintain a publicly available library of marketing contracts between packers and producers in a manner that ensures confidentiality.
Prohibit the USDA from using confidentiality as a justification for not reporting and make clear that USDA must report all Livestock Mandatory Reporting information, and they must do so in a manner that ensures confidentiality.
Require more timely reporting of cattle carcass weights as well as require a packer to report the number of cattle scheduled to be delivered for slaughter each day for the next 14 days.
The following groups have endorsed the bill: American Farm Bureau, U.S. Cattlemen’s Association, National Farmers Union, and National Grange.
Click here to read the text of the bill.
Click here for a one-pager on the bill.
Click here for a section-by-section summary of the bill.