Senate AG Committee Opens a Gate for Cattle Producers

Market to Market | Clip
Jun 24, 2022 | 3 min

Opening one more gate towards price transparency in the cattle market


This week, two pieces of legislation aimed at providing a more even playing field in the cattle market, made their way through the Senate Agriculture Committee.

Sen. Deb Fischer, R - Nebraska: ”The goal of the legislation is to ensure that every segment of the beef supply chain can succeed by ensuring robust price discovery and market transparency.”

The pair of bills shared bipartisan support as both sides of the aisle found common ground over cattle market consolidation concerns.

Sen. Michael Bennet, D - Colorado: “One thing we do agree on is that we've had too much consolidation in the meat packing industry. It's been bad for consumers, and it's been terrible for independent cattlemen.”

Sen. Roger Marshall, R - Kansas, “And I want to make it very clear. I'm concerned with the level of concentration in the packing industry, not to mention the amount of foreign ownership in the industry as well. This is harming cow-calf operations and small feeders. No matter the industry, if you have three or four companies controlling 80 or more percent of any link in the supply chain problems can arise.”

The first bill, the Meat and Poultry Special Investigator Act of 2022, will establish a special position within the Department of Agriculture to investigate and prosecute violations of the Packers and Stockyards Act of 1921. Some committee members believe the legislation is redundant.

Sen. John Boozman, R - Arkansas, ”Creating a new office to focus on something USDA can already do, doesn't seem like the best course of action…in my mind.”

          The second piece of legislation, the Cattle Price Transparency Act of 2022, creates a library of contracts between packers and producers for the USDA. The bill also requires processors to create a 14-day slaughter report, giving producers a method for projecting the needs of packers.

Sen. Charles Grassley, R - Iowa, “I wanna compliment the family, farmers, those that have cattle operations and know how bad it is to know if you get a fair price, cuz there's not enough price discovery. And number two, maybe not to, if you get a price, not to be marketing your cattle for another 30 days and feed 'em $8 corn during that one month when they're already fat.”

Both measures received approval via voice vote and passed out of committee for debate by the full Senate. 

Passage of the legislation was met with mixed reactions from the cattle industry. The National Farmers Union applauded the passage of the bills, while the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association strongly opposed them. 

For Market to Market, I’m John Torpy.