Fischer, Grassley, Tester, Wyden Cattle Market Reform Bill Passes Ag Committee

Fischer, Grassley, Tester, Wyden Cattle Market Reform Bill Passes Ag Committee
Cattle on range in western Nebraska. RRN/Guzman
June 22nd, 2022 | Senator Deb Fischer News Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Legislation sponsored by U.S. Senators Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) passed out of the Senate Agriculture Committee today. Their Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act passed by voice vote with only two recorded no votes, and is now eligible for a final vote on the Senate floor. The senators unveiled the updated version of the legislation in March.

“Our bipartisan bill to facilitate price discovery and bring much needed transparency to the cattle market passed the committee by voice vote with only two recorded no votes. The broad support reflects the importance of restoring market fairness so that every segment of the cattle supply chain can succeed. These reforms are especially needed now at a time when family ranchers and consumers are all struggling to navigate a slow economy and record inflation,” said Senator Fischer, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee.

“Iowa cattle producers have struggled to receive a fair price for years – long before inflation hit a 40-year high. 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 grateful for the diligent work of Senators Fischer, Tester, Wyden and all of my colleagues to advance this bill out of committee and I look forward to a floor vote in short order,” said Senator Grassley, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee and ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

“Americans are paying too much at the meat counter in their local grocery store while multi-national corporations make record profits at their expense. At the same time, these corporations refuse to pay family ranchers a fair rate for the beef they raise. Getting this legislation through Committee is a big deal, and I want to thank Chairwoman Stabenow and Ranking Member Boozman for their input and fairness throughout this process. Now we need to put this bill on the Senate floor, because we can’t afford to let massive multi-national corporations continue to price gouge consumers while ripping off our family ranchers,” said Senator Tester.

“This takes a significant step to restore fairness and reform a marketplace now benefiting only a few corporate meat packers, while unjustly hurting Oregon’s family ranchers and artificially driving up beef prices for consumers. I’m glad our bipartisan bill has earned committee support. And I’ll keep working for the passage of this legislation that would help grocery store shoppers and provide our state’s ranchers the opportunity to do what they do best – compete and provide top-notch and affordable beef,” said Senator Wyden, Chair of the Senate Finance Committee.

“Senator Deb Fischer led the introduction of the Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act as one of the much-needed solutions to an increasingly consolidated meat industry. Studies have shown that, without government intervention, negotiated trade in the U.S. marketplace will fall to zero percent by 2026 in parts of the country. When producers don’t have the ability to negotiate a fair price for their cattle based on current market conditions, it results in a vertically integrated, corporate-controlled beef supply chain. This threatens the livelihoods of producers and the security of our national food system,” said Dr. Brooke Miller, President of U.S. Cattlemen’s Association.

“For family farmers and ranchers to thrive, they need markets that offer adequate price discovery and transparency. NFU strongly supports the Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act of 2022, which will preserve the cash market as an option for cattle producers by establishing regional minimums for cash trades, and through other provisions. We would like to thank Senator Fischer and the cosponsors of the bill for their strong leadership on this issue, and we urge swift passage of this bill by the full Senate,” said National Farmers Union (NFU) President Rob Larew.

The updated bill would:

  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. The bill also includes provisions to 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.

Click here to read the bill text.

Click here for an one-pager on the bill. 

Click here for an updated section-by-section summary of the bill.

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