Looking for solutions in the cattle industry and preventing future supply chain failures

The cattle industry has been looking for solutions since the Tyson Holcomb fire last year and the supply chain failure at the start of the pandemic.

Two cattlemen turned lawmakers hope to solve the challenges in the industry with policy solutions. Senator Mike Rounds says that mandatory country of origin labeling should be reinstated.

According to Rounds, “We have to have the administration commit to actually putting that into the negotiations in any trade agreements we do. Mandatory country of origin labeling and it’s time to get it done. Transparency bill that we’ve got right now that Chuck Grassley has been a champion of, it would move us in the right direction to get some price transparency in there, but all of these items need to be focused on-- we’ve got to continue to push forward.”

Rounds partnered with Senators Chuck Grassley and John Tester to introduce a cattle marketing bill that would require a minimum of 50 percent of a meat packer’s weekly volume of beef slaughter be purchased on the open or sport market.

Tester also wants to see better enforcement of the Packers and Stockyards Act. “For people raising cows and small and medium sized feeders, it’s more than just COVID; we’ve got some problems. We have a Packers and Stockyards Act in this country that needs to be enforced,” Sen. Tester notes. “If we had enforced it, a lot of the bills that I got and the bills that Rounds has got that we’re pushing, we wouldn’t have to do them cause it wold take away the problem.”

He says consolidation is the biggest threat to agriculture: “I’m a capitalist, I believe in a capitalistic system. I think that when you have competition out there in the market place things will work. When you have a monopoly of the kind of consolidation that creates a monopoly, which I think is where we’re at in much of the agriculture business, than you don’t get true market prices...”

Senator Rounds says it is important to improve the way beef is marketed: “We need to be able to speak with one voice in many ways to send the most powerful message we can on behalf of beef producers, but also, I think, we have to be able to share with the consumer good solid information...”

Both lawmakers say that they want to see the results of the ongoing Department of Justice investigation int the “Big Four” meat packers for potential antitrust violations.

Cattle bill obstructed by Ag Committee Chair.

NCBA opposes cattle market bill proposed by Grassley and Tester.

Sen. Grassley versus Sen. Roberts on livestock bill.