Senators Deb Fischer (R-NE), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Jon Tester (D-MT), and Ron Wyden (D-OR) reintroduced the Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act.
The bill would establish minimum levels of fed cattle purchases made through approved pricing mechanisms, which includes negotiated cash, negotiated grid, at a stockyard, and through trading systems that multiple buyers and sellers regularly can make and accept bids.
The bill also includes provisions to create a cattle contract library, mandating box beef reporting to ensure transparency, expediting the reporting of cattle carcass weights, and requiring a packer to report the number of cattle scheduled to be delivered for slaughter each day for the next 14 days.
“As a third generation farmer, I know people in Washington don’t understand the challenges Montana ranchers face. Right now, just four big packers control north of 80 percent of the beef industry, and that means those four companies can get together tomorrow and decide what they’re charging consumers and paying producers. I know this isn’t right and will take on these massive corporations and anyone back in Washington to make sure Montana families and ranchers get what they need,” said Tester.
“Iowa cattle producers have struggled to receive a fair price for years – long before the massive market distortions cattle producers have endured most recently. It’s past time for Congress to stand with independent cattle producers and put an end to the cozy relationship between large meat packers and big cattle feedlots. I’m glad to again partner with Senators Fischer, Tester, Wyden and all of my colleagues to build on last year’s successes to advance our Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act,” said Grassley, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee.
“I continue to hear from Nebraska family farmers and ranchers about the need for robust price discovery and transparency in our cattle markets. Support for our bill is stronger than ever, with a long list of cosponsors representing a diverse set of agricultural communities from across the country. I look forward to working with them all to build on the strong momentum we had last year,” said Fischer, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee.
“Family farmers and ranchers in Oregon are working hard to make a living and produce quality meat to feed families across America and the world. Yet, right now the system is working against them and is rigged in favor of big corporations. The cattle market desperately needs reform to level the playing field and give family farmers and ranchers a fair shot,” said Wyden.
The legislation is cosponsored by Senators Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Ben Ray Lujan (D-N.M.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Sherrod Brown (R-Ohio), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), John Kennedy (R-La.), and Pete Ricketts (R-Neb.). Eleven of the bill’s cosponsors are members of the Senate Agriculture Committee.
Grassley, Fischer, Wyden, and Tester first introduced the Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act last Congress. In June, the Senate Agriculture Committee passed the legislation by voice vote.
The Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act of 2023 will:
- Require the Secretary of Agriculture to establish 5-7 regions encompassing the entire continental U.S. and then establish minimum levels of fed cattle purchases made through approved pricing mechanisms. Approved pricing mechanisms are fed cattle purchases made through negotiated cash, negotiated grid, at a stockyard, and through trading systems that multiple buyers and sellers regularly can make and accept bids. These pricing mechanisms will ensure robust price discovery and are transparent.
- Establish a maximum penalty for covered packers of $90,000 for mandatory minimum violations. Covered packers are defined as those packers that during the immediately preceding five years have slaughtered five percent or more of the number of fed cattle nationally.
- Create a publicly available library of marketing contracts, mandating box beef reporting to ensure transparency, expediting the reporting of cattle carcass weights, and requiring a packer to report the number of cattle scheduled to be delivered for slaughter each day for the next 14 days. The contract library would be permanently authorized and specify key details about the contents that must be included in the library like the duration of the contract and provisions in the contract that may impact price such as schedules, premiums and discounts, and transportation arrangements.
“It’s high time we put an end to the price gouging and manipulation plaguing Montana cattle markets. Restoring competition and transparency to our cattle markets willmake certain that Montana ranchers are competing on a level playing field and help ensure Montana families are paying fair prices at the grocery store. I will always support the Montana farmers and ranchers who feed our great state, nation, and the rest of the world,” Daines said.
“USCA applauds Senators Fischer, Tester, Grassley, and Wyden for their commitment to U.S. cattle market reform. Restoring fair and competitive market practices is a goal that USCA shares with these champions for competition – and the producers in their states. This bill gives producers access to valuable information that can help them make better – and more profitable – marketing decisions. We welcome the reintroduction of the Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act in the 118th Session of Congress and look forward to advancing this bill to the President’s desk,” said Justin Tupper, president of the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association.
“We must preserve and promote the cash market as a competitive option for ranchers. The reintroduction of the Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act is another important step in Farmers Union’s efforts to seek more transparency and fairness in cattle markets,” said Rob Larew, president of the National Farmers Union.