WASHINGTON – Iowa members of Congress helped introduce bipartisan legislation in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives aimed to return fairness to the cattle marketplace dominated by four major meat packers.
U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, authored the Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act with U.S. Senators Deb Fischer, R-Neb.), Jon Tester, D-Mont., and Ron Wyden, D-Ore. U.S. Senators Mike Braun, R-Ind., Tina Smith, D-Minn., Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., Steve Daines, R-Mont., Bill Cassidy, R-La., and Ben Ray Luján, D-N.M., also support the bill.
“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,” Grassley said in a released statement.
“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,” he added.
U.S. Senator Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, introduced the bill along with Grassley on Wednesday.
“While retail meat prices continue to rise, many of Iowa’s independent cattle producers who participate in the negotiated cash market are facing challenges and taking losses because they unfairly shoulder the burden of price discovery for cattle producers in other states and regions,” Ernst said in a released statement.
“I’m proud to support Senator Grassley and his bipartisan effort to create a more transparent, fair process and allow our independent, hardworking cattle producers in Iowa and across the country to get the best and most competitive prices for the high quality cattle they raise,” she added.
U.S. Reps. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa, and Randy Feenstra, R-Iowa, both members of the House Committee on Agriculture and the Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture, introduced companion legislation in the U.S. House.
“For years, Iowa’s independent cattle producers have been bearing the burden of price discovery and a lack of transparency when trying to market their cattle and make ends meet,” Axne said in a released statement.
“All they want is fairness and equal footing and that’s exactly what this legislation would do. The Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act would provide meaningful and long overdue reform to the cattle industry to ensure producers in Iowa and across this country can continue their operations for generations to come. I’m proud to have worked with Senator Grassley and my bipartisan colleagues on this issue throughout my time in Congress and will work to advance it across the finish line,” she added.
“Although the cost of beef continues to rise, independent cattle producers have seen prices decrease or remain stagnant for too long. It is clear the current negotiating structure puts consumers and smaller cattle operations at a disadvantage, which is why I immediately began calling for hearings and voicing concerns on the Agriculture Committee. I am honored to lead this legislation alongside Congresswoman Axne, and I would like to thank my colleagues in the Senate, including Senator Grassley, for their persistence and hard work on this critical issue. I look forward to working together to get this bipartisan, bicameral compromise on the president’s desk,” Feenstra stated.
The bill in the House is also supported by U.S. Reps. Ashley Hinson, R-Iowa, Mariannette Miller-Meeks, R-Iowa, Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., and Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo.
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 requiring a packer to report the number of cattle scheduled to be delivered for slaughter each day for the next 14 days.
The American Farm Bureau, U.S. Cattlemen’s Association, National Farmers Union, and National Grange have endorsed the bill.
Read the bill below:cattle_price_transparency_and_discovery_act_bill_text