November 10, 2021

Wyden, Fischer, Grassley, Tester Reach Cattle Market Bill Compromise

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) today joined with U.S. Sens. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) to announce a bipartisan compromise cattle market proposal, known as the Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act.

“Family ranchers in Oregon are struggling as they continue to recover from the economic fallout of the pandemic, on top of a cattle market that sets them up at a disadvantage and delivers big for corporate meat packers,” said Wyden, Chair of the Senate Finance Committee. “Our bipartisan coalition has one aim: level the playing field for the cattle ranchers in our states and allow them to grow their small businesses by restoring market fairness, efficiency, and transparency.” 

Wyden and the other senators plan to introduce the Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act in the coming days. The legislation would achieve the following:

1: Requires meat packers, on a plant-by-plant basis, to buy a certain amount of cattle from the cash market. This ensures that market conditions in a certain region are considered and formula pricing isn’t leveraged unfairly. 
2.    Requires the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to increase producer access to information on the cattle market contracts, while maintaining producer confidentiality. 
3.    Ensures the USDA is being transparent with producers and requires they must report all Livestock Mandatory Reporting information in a manner that ensures confidentiality.
4.    Requires the USDA to provide timely reporting of cattle carcass weights to give better insights to producers to maintain their business. It also requires a packer to report the number of cattle scheduled to be delivered for slaughter to help project estimated slaughter numbers and packers’ needs for cattle.

“Robust price discovery ensures that all members of the beef supply chain — cow-calf producers, feeders, packers, and consumers — can be successful,” said Fischer, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee. “The foundation of price discovery in the cattle market is negotiated cash sales. One or two regions of the country should not have to shoulder the burden of price discovery and that’s exactly what has been happening. Furthermore, even regions that primarily use alternative marketing arrangements (AMAs) such as formula contracts predominantly rely on negotiated cash sales to set their base prices. Our compromise proposal takes regional differences into account and ensures fairness for every segment of the supply chain.

“I frequently hear from Iowa’s independent cattle producers about their struggle to get a fair price for their cattle while the nation’s four largest packers operate in the shadows,” said Grassley, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee and ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “I pushed for hearings in the Senate’s Agriculture and Judiciary committees to shine a light on the market unfairness and now have partnered with a bipartisan group of senators to develop a solution. This bill takes several steps to improve cattle price transparency and will improve market conditions for independent producers across the country.”

“Montana ranchers raise the best beef in the world, and more market transparency and fairer prices are essential to fighting consolidation and keeping smaller operations strong,” said Tester. “Increasing spot transactions will give producers more control and better information when they sell their livestock, which is critical to helping them meet their bottom line. That’s how we keep markets fair and ensure Montana’s producers remain competitive.”

The following groups have endorsed the bill: American Farm Bureau, U.S. Cattlemen’s Association, and National Farmers Union.

Click here for a one-pager on the bill.

Click here for a section-by-section summary of the bill.