U.S. Cattle Producers Rally Around the Cattle Market Transparency Act of 2021

March 2, 2021

U.S. Senators Deb Fischer (R-NE) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) have introduced the Cattle Market Transparency Act of 2021. The legislation seeks to accomplish two main goals: ensuring regionally sufficient negotiated cash trade, and equipping producers with more information to aid marketing decisions.

Other cosponsors of the bill include Senators Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) and Mike Braun (R-IN).

United States Cattlemen’s Association (USCA) President Brooke Miller issued the following statement:

“USCA applauds Senators Fischer and Wyden for bringing forth a dynamic piece of legislation for a dynamic industry. 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.”

USCA Vice President and Marketing Committee Chair Justin Tupper said:

“The Cattle Market Transparency Act goes above and beyond establishing a minimum negotiated cash trade level – it also creates a contract library and addresses confidentiality concerns within the Livestock Mandatory Reporting (LMR) Program.

"Confidentiality guidelines within the LMR program are currently being used to block disclosure of full market information – leading to the evolution of LMR from a price-discovery tool for producers to a price-determination tool for packers. USCA’s Marketing Committee appreciates the countless hours of research and industry consultation by Senator Fischer and her staff that went into the development of this bill.”

USCA Region VII (Nebraska & Iowa) Board Member Lee Reichmuth added:  

"As a Nebraska cattle producer, I echo the same sentiments expressed by Senator Fischer on the impacts to our livelihood of increased packer competition, decreased competition, and a declining cash market.

"This bill builds off the recommendations provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in its Boxed Beef and Fed Cattle Price Spread Investigation Report and discussions producers across the U.S. are having in response to historically low cattle prices and a dysfunctional marketplace. Senator Fischer and her team condensed years’ worth of industry discussion into an economically solid and proven piece of legislation that will put us on the path to a more competitive business landscape.”

USCA Region I (Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and Hawaii) Director commented:

“Last year’s market disruptions and food shortages caused by COVID-19 highlighted the critical need for diverse cattle markets. As packing facilities began experiencing the bottlenecking of line speeds at their plants, the first ties they cut were those with independent producers. Corporate feeders went largely unharmed, due to their contract agreements, while independent producers were left with over-finished cattle and few, if any, marketing alternatives.

"The Cattle Market Transparency Act pulls the meatpacker’s thumb off of the scale, so to speak, and begins the rebalancing of negotiating power between packer and producer.”

The Cattle Market Transparency Act of 2021 will:

-Establish regional mandatory minimum thresholds of negotiated cash trades to enable price discovery in cattle marketing regions. It requires the Secretary of Agriculture to establish regionally sufficient levels of negotiated cash trade, seek public comment on those levels, then implement.

-Require USDA to create and maintain a library of marketing contracts between packers and producers, and require packers to supply this information to USDA. 

-Make clear that all information should be reported in a manner that ensures confidentiality, and note, “Nothing in this section permits the Secretary, or any officer or employee of the Secretary, to withhold from the public the information [required to be reported under LMR].”

-Mandate that a packer report the number of cattle scheduled to be delivered for slaughter each day for the next 14 days. This requirement already exists for the swine industry.

Read the bill.

Source: U.S. Cattlemen's Association