(WASHINGTON) – Today, U.S. Senators Deb Fischer (R-NE) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced the Cattle Market Transparency Act of 2021. The legislation seeks to accomplish two main goals: ensuring regionally sufficient negotiated cash trade, and equipping producers with more information to aid marketing decisions.
Other cosponsors of the bill include Senators Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) and Mike Braun (R-IN).
“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 Senator Fischer.
“Cattle ranchers and rural economies have been hit especially hard during the COVID-19 public health crisis. And that economic fallout gets compounded for Oregon producers who face both a lack of processing facilities and opaque cattle markets that add up to a serious disadvantage. 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,” said Senator Wyden.
The Cattle Market Transparency Act of 2021 will:
- Establish regional mandatory minimum thresholds of negotiated cash trades to enable price discovery in cattle marketing regions. It requires the Secretary of Agriculture to establish regionally sufficient levels of negotiated cash trade, seek public comment on those levels, then implement.
- Require USDA to create and maintain a library of marketing contracts between packers and producers, and require packers to supply this information to USDA.
- Make clear that all information should be reported in a manner that ensures confidentiality, and note, “Nothing in this section permits the Secretary, or any officer or employee of the Secretary, to withhold from the public the information [required to be reported under LMR].”
- Mandate that a packer report the number of cattle scheduled to be delivered for slaughter each day for the next 14 days. This requirement already exists for the swine industry.
Senator Fischer first introduced the Cattle Market Transparency Act in 2020. Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.) is introducing companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives. Below are the reactions of various ag industry groups:
United States Cattlemen’s Association (USCA) President Brooke Miller issued the following statement:
“USCA applauds Senators 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, Montana, 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.”
USCA Vice President and Marketing Committee Chair Justin Tupper said:
“The Cattle Market Transparency Act goes above and beyond establishing a minimum negotiated cash trade level – it also creates a contract library and addresses confidentiality concerns within the Livestock Mandatory Reporting (LMR) Program.
“Confidentiality guidelines within the LMR program are currently being used to block disclosure of full market information – leading to the evolution of LMR from a price-discovery tool for producers to a price-determination tool for packers. USCA’s Marketing Committee appreciates the countless hours of research and industry consultation by Senator Fischer and her staff that went into the development of this bill.”
American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall said:
“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 Senator Fischer and Senator 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.”
USCA/AFBF/Sen. Deb Fischer