Cattle Producers Welcome Contract Library Pilot Program

March 10, 2022

Last evening, the Senate passed the Fiscal Year 2022 Omnibus Appropriations package. In addition to providing funding for a number of programs of importance to U.S. beef cattle producers, the bill also maintained key provisions the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) has long advocated for, such as the Electronic Logging Device exemption for livestock haulers, important EPA regulatory relief, and an extension of the Livestock Mandatory Reporting program. Also included in the package is a Cattle Contract Library pilot program, a critical tool as NCBA works to increase market transparency for cattle producers. 

The pilot program marks a win for the U.S. cattle industry as it equips producers with the market data they need to make informed business decisions and work to capture more value for producing the highest quality beef in the world. 

“We are grateful to Ranking Member Hoeven and Chairwoman Baldwin for spearheading this effort, as well as the many members of Congress who worked behind the scenes to advance this important transparency tool for cattle producers," said NCBA Vice President of Government Affairs Ethan Lane. "This pilot program will allow USDA to work on the model for a contract library that works for everyone in the supply chain while Congress and industry continue to work out the details of a permanent library in subsequent legislation like the Cattle Contract Library Act.”

NCBA stands ready to ensure proper implementation of this program and looks forward to working with members of Congress to establish permanent solutions to ensure a viable business climate for cattle producers.

But, the meat packing lobby, represented by the North American Meat Institute is not pleased by the move. 

“Congress and the Administration say they value transparency in the beef and cattle market yet they bury this rider without debate in a giant spending bill and direct USDA to create the pilot program without any feedback from beef companies or cattle producers,” said Meat Institute President and CEO Julie Anna Potts. “There will be no opportunity for companies to provide valuable perspective on what information should be included or how it should be reported.”

Under the pilot, Meat Institute members who purchase beef cattle with an Alternative Marketing Arrangement will be legally obligated to report proprietary and sensitive data to the government for publication.

The law is vague and provides no guardrails for the type or amount of data and leaves program development up to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agriculture Marketing Service. (AMS)

Finally, the law contains a provision that allows AMS to promulgate the rules without a comment period as normally required by law.

“The Congress directs the Administration to create another onerous USDA program with the sole purpose of collecting private business information and making it public without any input from the regulated industry,” said Potts. “This is not transparent or responsible.”

Source: Western Ag Network, NCBA, NAMI