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Hartzler Introduces the Optimizing the Cattle Market Act of 2021

June 8, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Missouri Reps. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO), a senior member on the House Agriculture Committee and Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) introduced the bipartisan Optimizing the Cattle Market Act of 2021 to enable mechanisms for greater price discovery and transparency within the cattle market, while equipping producers with more tools and useful information to succeed.
 
“America’s producers continue to face challenges in the cattle market, particularly in terms of external market disruptions and the fading COVID-19 pandemic,” Hartzler said. “This legislation aims to usher in transparency improvements and restores accountability in the industry to lift up these struggling sectors and embark on a new chapter of progress for our cattlemen and women. I am proud to introduce the Optimizing the Cattle Market Act to make this a reality for our nation’s trusted agricultural partners.”
 
“The COVID-19 pandemic has hit Americans from all walks of life especially hard over the past year—and Missouri’s cattle ranchers are no exception,” said Cleaver. “After their valiant efforts to keep food on the tables of American families, it’s critical that we do everything possible to ensure ranchers have the market transparency necessary to make informed business decisions that will help them stay in business and continue to generate economic activity throughout rural Missouri. I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan, common sense piece of legislation with Congresswoman Hartzler, and I look forward to working with her to get it passed through Congress.”
 
“America’s families are paying more for meat at the grocery store while rock bottom prices are paid to farmers. Ranchers can’t continue to lose money on the cattle they work hard to raise. Farmers and ranchers have legitimate questions, and this legislation takes important steps toward ensuring they have fair access to markets and are fully informed on pricing,” said American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall. “We appreciate Representative Hartzler and Representative Cleaver for introducing the Optimizing the Cattle Market Act of 2021 and we look forward to working with Congress to make certain farmers and ranchers can continue to put dinner on the table in homes across America.”
 
Specifically, this legislation:

  • Requires the Secretary of Agriculture, in consultation with the Chief Economist, to establish regionally sufficient levels of negotiated cash and negotiated grid trade within 2 years of enactment and to consider stakeholder input through a public comment period. Consideration must also be given to peer reviewed economic research from land grant universities.

    • Packers include only federally inspected cattle processing plants that slaughter an average of 125,000 head of cattle per year (roughly 500 head per day) during the prior 5 years.

    • These minimums may be weekly or another periodic basis, must account for black swan events, and must be reviewed every 2 years.

    • After 3 years, a cost-benefit analysis must be done to determine the operation and effect of regional mandatory minimums.

  • Mandates that a packer report the number of cattle, organized by cattle type, scheduled to be delivered for slaughter each day for the next 14 days for USDA to make available to the public.

  • Expresses the sense of Congress that there is a need for expedited reauthorization of U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Livestock Mandatory Reporting (LMR) program, including base prices subject to the same reporting requirements as negotiated cash and the creation of a contract library.

  • Directs USDA to provide educational outreach activities for producers on how to best utilize the library.

Missouri Cattlemen’s Association President-Elect Bruce Mershon also echoed support for Hartzler’s legislation, saying the bill works to bolster opportunities for all producers within the industry.
 
“We are once again ready to push forward meaningful, long-term structural changes in the beef cattle markets with this thoughtful, methodical approach being sponsored by Congresswoman Hartzler. The goal is robust price discovery and market transparency that will afford all segments of this industry the opportunity to be profitable,” Missouri Cattlemen’s Association President-Elect Bruce Mershon said.
 
“Our members are grateful to Congresswoman Hartzler for working to address the problems we've seen in livestock markets the past few years. Beef producers have been continually receiving a smaller percentage of the retail beef price while meatpackers have multiplied their record profits.  The Optimizing the Cattle Market Act would improve price transparency and reduce volatility in beef markets. Better information and more predictability will put cattlemen in a better position to make marketing decisions.  We look forward to working with Congresswoman Hartzler and her colleagues to deliver real help for Missouri farm and ranch families on this important issue,” said Missouri Farm Bureau President Garrett Hawkins, a farmer from St. Clair County.
 
“The Livestock Marketing Association supports efforts to improve price discovery and competition while allowing producers to receive fair market value for fed cattle as well as all other cattle in the supply chain,” said Livestock Marketing Association President Larry Schnell. “We appreciate the leadership of Representative Hartzler in introducing this bill and her dedication to working towards solutions on these difficult issues. LMA was particularly pleased to see a focus on items highlighted in recent industry discussions, including creating a contract library and reauthorizing Livestock Mandatory Reporting.”
 
The bill seeks to address similar goals as S. 543 introduced by Senator Deb Fischer (R-NE).
 
Read the full House legislation in its entirety.

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