Lawmakers have recently reintroduced legislation to provide producers with more pricing information and ensure appropriate regionally negotiated cash trade. U.S. Senators Deb Fischer and Ron Wyden have introduced the Cattle Market Transparency Act of 2021. Other cosponsors of the bill include Senators Cindy Hyde-Smith and Mike Braun. The legislation is receiving support from a variety of agricultural organizations.
“America’s ranchers don’t control the prices they are paid for their products and those raising livestock have legitimate questions about pricing,” American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall said in a news release. “This legislation will ensure farmers and ranchers have fair access to markets and are fully informed on pricing so they can continue to put food on the table in homes across the country.”
The Cattle Market Transparency Act of 2021 would require the Secretary of Agriculture to consult with the Chief Economist in setting regional mandatory minimums for negotiated cash trade. Public comment on the levels would be provided and then implemented. USDA would also be required to develop a publicly available library of marketing contracts between packers and producers. Packers would be responsible for supplying contract information to USDA.
USDA would also be prohibited from using confidentiality as a reason for not reporting. The legislation would also clarify confidentiality requirements under the Livestock Mandatory Reporting rule. Packers would also be required to report the number of cattle scheduled to be delivered for slaughter each day for the next 14 days. Industry groups are largely enthusiastic about the potential the legislation presents.
“USCA applauds Senators Fischer and Wyden for bringing forth a dynamic piece of legislation for a dynamic industry,” said United States Cattlemen’s Association President Brooke Miller. “The current conversations on increasing transparency and price discovery in the cattle marketplace began at the 2020 Winter Thaw in Billings, Montana, where USCA brought together industry leaders to brainstorm solutions to a thinning cash market. Those solutions are incorporated within the Cattle Market Transparency Act, and USCA stands ready to see this piece of legislation through to the finish line.”