Livestock market bill heads to President

Bill ensures protections are extended to online or video livestock options and allows for modern electronic banking options.

The Senate on Thursday sent the Clarification of Treatment of Electronic Sales of Livestock Act to the White House. The bill would amend the Packers & Stockyards Act of 1921 to ensure that the law’s protections are extended to online or video livestock auctions.

The bill would also ensure modern electronic banking options. The Senate approved H.R. 5883 — the companion bill to S. 3350 by Sens. Thad Cochran (R., Miss.) and Jon Tester (D., Mont.) — by unanimous consent.

Cochran, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and senior member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, said, “I am confident that this bipartisan legislation will be signed into law and that the protections it offers to producers will improve livestock transactions.”

Like all businesses, livestock auctions have evolved as technology has allowed for new forms of buying and selling livestock, such as video and online sales. As a result, modern methods of payment, such as use of credit cards, have become commonplace in the livestock marketing industry. H.R. 5883 revises the Packers & Stockyards Act to ensure that these types of businesses and forms of payment are allowed under the act.

H.R. 5883, introduced by Rep. David Rouzer (R., N.C.), will clarify that Packers & Stockyards Act provisions apply to online or video auctions, just as they do for fixed-facility livestock market transactions. The legislation would also authorize modern electronic payment methods, including credit and debit cards or the Automated Clearing House payments system. The law currently authorizes only the use of checks or wire transfers to settle livestock sales.

“Today was a huge step forward for the livestock marketing industry, bringing our main regulatory law, which dates back to 1921, into the 21st century with some commonsense updates,” said Dan Harris, owner of Holton Livestock Exchange and chairman of the Livestock Marketing Assn. board of directors.

“I’ve seen it firsthand: Life on the farm and ranch is changing in the 21st century,” Tester said. "We see four-wheelers taking the place of horses and combines that can do a month’s work in a day. It’s time that our livestock auction laws reflect the world we live in. I am pleased to see my commonsense, bipartisan legislation pass to help bring livestock auctions into the 21st century.”

H.R. 5883 has the support of the American Farm Bureau Federation, American Sheep Industry Assn., Livestock Marketing Assn., National Cattlemen’s Beef Assn., National Farmers Union, National Livestock Producers Assn. and United States Cattlemen’s Assn.

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