FarmProgress: Bipartisan group reintroduces cattle market reform bill

by Joshua Baethge

After failing to get legislation passed last session, a bipartisan group of senators reintroduced a bill they say will improve transparency and accountability in the cattle market.

The Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act would require USDA to establish five to seven regions across the country that reasonably reflect similar fed cattle purchases. It would also require USDA to establish minimum purchase levels through approved pricing mechanisms that packers controlling 5% or more of fed cattle slaughter would be required to make.

Each region’s mandatory minimum would be set at no less than the average of its negotiated trade for the two-year period between 2020 and 2021. The maximum threshold for any region would be set at 50%.

USDA would be required to review the mandatory minimums after two years. The agency would also work with stakeholders in the cattle and beef industry to review and modify regional minimums after a public notice and comment period.

The bill was introduced by Sens. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., Ron Wyden D-Ore., Jon Tester, D-Mont. and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa. According to Grassley, cattle producers have struggled to receive a fair price for years, long before the market distortions they have endured 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,” Grassley said. “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.”

Co-sponsoring the bill are Sens. 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.

U.S. Cattlemen’s Association president Justin Tupper applauded the senators for their commitment to 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,” he said. “This bill gives producers access to valuable information that can help them make better – and more profitable – marketing decisions.”

Bipartisan group reintroduces cattle market reform bill (