A coalition of 17 state cattlemen's organizations are calling for congressional leaders to support the Cattle Market Transparency Act of 2020, S. 4647/H.R. 8557.
Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Nebraska, introduced the Cattle Market Transparency Act in September. The legislation would establish regional negotiated cash minimums and provide producers with more market information.
“The past few years have been very difficult for producers, due to tough conditions and big market disruptions such as the Holcomb plant fire and the outbreak of COVID-19," Fischer said. "My legislation seeks to bring transparency and accountability to the cattle market. It will ensure there are a sufficient number of cash transactions to facilitate price discovery and equip producers with more price information to assist them with their marketing decisions."
Ken Herz, Nebraska Catttlemen president, said fed cattle market price discovery has been a priority for his organization for the past decade.
"Items in Senator Fischer’s bill such as the cattle contract library and clarification of USDA-LMR confidentiality guidelines to avoid non-reporting of USDA-LMR collected data on a regional and national basis will aid in increasing cattle market transparency for all producers," he said. "Additionally, directing USDA-AMS to establish regionally negotiated cash plus negotiated grid marketing volume minimum thresholds will enhance price discovery goals and commitments for the betterment of all cattle producers."
The Cattle Market Transparency Act of 2020 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.
The Iowa Cattlemen's Association, a leader in the 17-state coalition that wrote to congressional leaders, said robust price discovery is essential.
"We see the Cattle Market Transparency Act of 2020 as an opportunity to advance important priorities without delay or temporary commitments from packers," the Iowa Cattlemen's Association said in a statement. "Insight from our producers has told us that we must act with a sense of urgency, as cattlemen cannot withstand future market disruptions without adjusting the unbalanced power dynamic between those who raise cattle and those who process beef. Without government intervention, cattlemen will continue to be at the mercy of decisions made by the packing industry."