Senate committee approves two livestock marketing reform bills
The Senate Agriculture Committee quickly approved legislation on Wednesday that would require meatpackers to buy a portion of their slaughter cattle on the cash market — a step intended to ensure fair prices — and create a USDA special investigator to enforce fair-play rules in the highly concentrated meat industry.
House votes to create USDA meat investigator
Over the objections of Republicans, the House passed legislation on Thursday to create a USDA special investigator to enforce fair-play rules in the highly concentrated meatpacking industry. It was the most significant livestock marketing reform to advance in Congress this session.
Packers: ‘We’re not to blame for high meat prices’
The chief executives of the nation’s four largest meatpacking companies said on Wednesday that they were not the cause of surging meat prices at the grocery store, which are up by 15 percent in a year. And they told a skeptical House Agriculture chairman David Scott there was no pact to drive up profits at the expense of consumers or limit the meat supply for Americans.
Largest U.S. farm group opposes cattle market quotas
While supporting more transparency in cattle prices, the American Farm Bureau Federation draws the line at requiring meatpackers to buy slaughter cattle on the cash market, said president Zippy Duvall. Mandatory purchases are a prime feature of the leading Senate bill for cattle market reform.
House advances cattle marketing reform bill
By large, bipartisan majorities, the House passed bills on Wednesday to introduce more transparency in cattle marketing and to keep in force a law that requires meatpackers to report purchase prices of livestock. The bills now go to the Senate for action.
Cattle reformers in Senate unite on price discovery bill
In order to increase market transparency, four senators said on Tuesday they would file legislation to require meatpackers to buy a portion of their slaughter cattle on the cash market. The bill also would create a contract library that discloses the purchase terms that packers offer for cattle, so producers might know if a fair price is being offered.
Cattle contract bill is first market reform to win House panel backing
On a voice vote, the House Agriculture Committee approved a bipartisan bill on Thursday to create a cattle contract library at the USDA, with one proponent saying it would "inject much-needed transparency back into the marketplace." The bill was the first market reform to gain traction in Congress this year despite complaints by ranchers that meatpackers have an unfair advantage in an opaque sales system.
Lawmakers shrug at Grassley call for livestock reform
Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley urged reauthorization of mandatory price reporting, telling the House Agriculture Committee on Thursday that it is the ideal vehicle for ensuring cattle producers get a fair price from meatpackers. But few committee members got on board with the idea, preferring to switch topics and complain that the USDA's proposals for fair play in the marketplace would boomerang and mean lower sales prices.
Two new USDA reports to put more details into cattle prices
The USDA will launch two new cattle pricing reports next week that "will bring needed clarity to the marketplace," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Thursday. The reports, which will provide more information on prices for cattle sold through the major channels, were greeted as a significant step toward transparency in an often-opaque market.
Senate approves first Biden-era executive at USDA
On a voice vote, the Senate confirmed agricultural law expert Janie Hipp, who promised to be "a big voice at the interdepartmental table" in dealing with cattle prices and biofuels, as USDA general counsel. She was the first of President Biden's nominees for top-tier executive posts at USDA to see a Senate vote, but action could be near on others.
‘Oligopoly’ in cattle marketing demands action, say senators
With Sen. John Thune decrying an "oligopoly" in the beef industry, a handful of senators on Wednesday called for Congress to give cattle producers a fairer shake when they send their stock to market.
Senate bill calls for half of slaughter cattle to be sold on cash market
Large meatpackers would be required to buy 50 percent of their cattle for slaughter each week on the open market under legislation filed by nine senators. It was the second bill this month aimed at greater transparency in cattle prices.
Senate bill would require cash sales of some cattle
To ensure fair prices for cattle producers, the USDA would require meatpackers to buy a specified number of cattle on the spot market and through negotiated "grid" trades under a Senate bill introduced on Tuesday. The bill, similar to legislation filed in September 2020, was backed by the American Farm Bureau Federation and the U.S. Cattlemen's Association.
Meatpackers skeptical of broader disclosure of cattle prices and purchases
Noting complaints about dwindling competition, the USDA listed several ways to improve price transparency in the cattle market on Wednesday and offered to assist stakeholders and policymakers in exploring options to assure fair prices and level the playing field between producers and processors.
Farm groups look at Trump and see a potential ally
President-elect Donald Trump is getting a welcoming handshake from farm groups often identified with Democrats or populists, not just those touting free enterprise and low taxes. The National Farmers Union said in a letter to Trump that the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact, backed by many farm groups, is a threat to the rural economy, so "we hope to work with your administration on fair trade deals."
Cheap corn isn’t enough to keep U.S. cattle herd growing
Beef prices set records in 2014 due to short supplies and rising demand in the U.S. and overseas, encouraging cattle producers to chase profits by expanding their herds. Now, despite declining prices for corn, they're cutting back because slaughter cattle prices this year are forecast by USDA to be an average 18 percent lower than last year.
Lower livestock prices darken expectations in farm country
Crop and livestock producers are less optimistic about the economic outlook for the farm sector, according to the Ag Economy Barometer sponsored by Purdue and the CME Group. The chief reason was a decline in cattle prices during May, said Purdue economist Jim Mintert.