The U.S. Cattlemen's Assn. (USCA), the National Farmers Union (NFU) and 11 other organizations sent a letter to the Senate Agriculture Committee requesting a hearing on livestock mandatory price reporting reauthorization.
The Livestock Mandatory Reporting rule, established in 1999, mandates price reporting for cattle, boxed beef, swine and lamb. It is reauthorized every five years, with the current program expiring on Sept. 30, 2020. This year represents an opportunity to make meaningful change to the program to increase transparency and true price discovery.
According to a 2019 Congressional Research Service report, "A common concern among stakeholders is the low volume of negotiated purchases and a parallel trend toward increased formula purchases or other marketing arrangements. Other concerns are about confidentiality and a lack of clarity on how transactions are categorized in reports, with some stakeholders advocating for the inclusion of more details about transactions, such as premium levels — especially as the market changes — and reporting on the number of livestock committed to packers."
USCA and others strongly urged the Senate Agriculture Committee to examine all available solutions to the current market factors depressing livestock prices and the increasing consolidation of the U.S. cattle industry. In the letter, the groups stated that Congress is running out of time to work towards a tenable reauthorization of the program. The U.S. livestock industry requires bold leadership to realign the marketplace with its fundamentals, and that starts with modernizing the Livestock Mandatory Reporting program, they added.
“The program expires Sept. 30, 2020, which gives the Senate approximately 30 workdays to move towards a tenable reauthorization,” the letter stated, adding that Livestock Mandatory Reporting “is a complex program; a hearing would convene relevant stakeholders to publicly discuss needed program changes and provide additional information on the proposals that have already been introduced.”
The letter stated: “Across the United States, livestock producers are facing unprecedented challenges to their livelihood. As these threats rise and market prices fall, more and more families have come to the realization that they simply cannot keep their bottom line 'in the black' at the end of the year. Our concern lies not only in the ability of our nation to continue producing the highest-quality, safest food supply in the world but also in the ability of our producers to feed themselves.”
Organizations signing the letter include: Independent Beef Association of North Dakota, Independent Cattlemen’s Association of Nebraska, Independent Cattlemen’s Association of Texas, Kansas Cattlemen’s Assn., Marias River Livestock Assn., Montana Cattlemen’s Assn., Montana Farmers Union, National Farmers Union, North Dakota Farmers Union, Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, South Dakota Farmers Union and Women Involved in Farm Economics.
In May, Sens. Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) and Jon Tester (D., Mont.) introduced S. 3693, a bill that would require a minimum of 50% of each packer processing plant’s weekly volume of beef slaughter to come as a result of purchases made on the open (spot) market, defined as those that fall under negotiated purchases (forward contracts and formula marketing agreements are not considered negotiated sales).
USCA said it believes the 50/14 bill proposed by Grassley will not pass on its own and, therefore, needs to be attached to a "moving vehicle," or a piece of legislation that is guaranteed to reach a full vote by the House and Senate. USCA said mandatory price reporting is that vehicle for S. 3693.