The bipartisan Cattle Contract Library Act of 2021 was recently passed by the U.S. House Agriculture Committee. Several industry groups have levied support for the legislation, including the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Farmers Union, and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA). Introduced by Representatives Dusty Johnson and Henry Cuellar, the legislation seeks to increase transparency in the cattle market.
“Producers have been asking for increased transparency and leverage in the cattle market for years, the Cattle Contract Library Act will provide granular data in near real time, ensuring producers understand the value of marketing agreements,” said Johnson. “Data drives marketing decisions and a contract library will provide much-needed leverage for independent producers.”
The legislation will establish a library for cattle contracts within the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agriculture Marketing Service Department. Cattlemen are unaware of contract terms that are being offered by packers under the current system. The potential for increasing access to market data for producers is being applauded by industry members.
“After more than a year of upheaval, facing everything from extreme drought to supply chain disruptions, many cattle producers have been backed against a wall. We need to act urgently to provide them with relief,” NCBA President Jerry Bohn said in a press release. “There is no single, silver bullet solution to the wide variety of needs among our diverse membership, but lawmakers can start by focusing on viable solutions that have broad-base support across the industry. The cattle contract library is one such solution, and it will help our producers command more leverage in negotiations with the packers.”
Nearly a year of work went into the development of the Cattle Contract Library Act. Lawmakers have been coordinating with industry members after the release of the July 2020 Boxed Beef & Fed Cattle Price Spread Investigation Report. That document recommended the development of a library. The bill will still need to first be approved by the full House and will require Senate consideration before it can be signed into law.