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VIDEO: Ernst-Backed Measure to Support Iowa Independent Cattle Producers, Improve Market Transparency Clears Senate Committee

The Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act works to return fairness to the cattle marketplace, which is currently dominated by four major meat packers.

WASHINGTON – A bipartisan measure U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) is backing to return fairness to the cattle marketplace – currently dominated by four major meat packers – cleared the Senate Agriculture Committee today, bringing the effort to improve market transparency one step closer to becoming law. Ernst and a bipartisan group of her colleagues, led by Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), introduced the legislation in November. 

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Click here or on the image above for Ernst’s remarks following the committee passage of the bill today.

“For too long, Iowa’s independent cattle producers have faced challenges in the negotiated cash market – dominated by the four major meat packers – and unfairly shouldered the weight of price discovery for cattle producers in other states and regions,” said Senator Ernst. “I’m proud to support Senator Grassley on this bill that takes major steps towards creating a more transparent market to allow our independent, hardworking cattle producers in Iowa and across the country to get the best and most competitive prices for the high-quality cattle they raise.”

The Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act will:

  1. Establish 14-day slaughter reporting: Packers must report the number of cattle scheduled to be slaughtered each day for the next 14-day period so that producers can project estimated slaughter numbers and packers’ needs for cattle.
  2. Require daily formula base price reporting: U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will report the base price information for cattle purchased though formula marketing arrangements to allow producers to better understand formula transactions.
  3. Determine timely carcass weight reporting: USDA will determine the minimum time frame to report daily average carcass weights of cattle after they are chilled to provide producers better insight into the dressing percentages and yield of their cattle after they have been processed.
  4. Launch a USDA Cattle contracts library: Directs USDA to create and maintain a library of marketing contracts between packers and producers and requires packers to supply this information to USDA and for it to be published in a user-friendly way.
  5. Create regional mandatory minimum levels of negotiated trade: Requires the USDA Secretary to establish mandatory levels of negotiated cash and negotiated grid transactions for each USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) designated cattle region, seek public comment on those levels, and then implement. Under this new program, covered packers—on a plant by plant basis—will be required to procure a certain amount of cattle from the cash market.

The Senate Agriculture Committee also passed the Meat and Poultry Special Investigator Act, a bill to address anticompetitive behavior within the livestock and poultry industry, out of committee today.