Senator Fischer Fights for More Transparency in the Cattle Market
Members from both American Farm Bureau and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association have shared their opposition to a mandatory cash cattle trade proposed in The Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act.
The legislation includes language to create a cattle contract library, improve enforcement of The Packers and Stockyards Act, and establish regional mandatory negotiated cash cattle trade. Nebraska Senator Deb Fischer says the goal is better transparency.
“It’s important to get that information out there so that all segments of the beef industry can succeed, whether they’re cow calf or bigger small feedlots. In Nebraska, we have all that plus we have three of the four big packers and so we want all segments to succeed, but you have to have information, and you have to have transparency.”
But farm groups have been torn on the bill, supporting the contract library and enforcement, but not the mandate for more cash sales.
“Farm Bureau has been very supportive. Their members, it’s split about half and half on whether it should be mandatory or voluntary. What I would say is, what we’re seeing is that voluntary is not getting us the information. We’ve seen different organizations trying to get their members to do this reporting, so that the market can be seen on what it is and it’s not happening. So, it really needs to be mandatory.”
She says the provision to make it a regional process helps balance out the mandate.
“It’s not a national standard that’s going to be out there. It’s going to be focused on the different regions around this country. So, what happens in Nebraska is what Nebraska family farms and ranchers want to know about. They don’t want to know what the market is in Texas. They want to know what it is in Nebraska. And in Texas, the people there they need to know what their market is.”
Despite the opposition for cash trades, she is still optimistic about the growing bipartisan support on the Hill.
“We now have eight republicans, nine democrats who have signed on to the bill. It has a lot of momentum. We’re working with committee staff, both majority and minority staff. We’re working with USDA to make sure that the bill is technically correct. And Senator Stabenow has just been very enthusiastic about the bill.”
Senator Fischer is hoping to see movement on the bill next week, including an Ag committee hearing where members will be able to continue the conversation on cash cattle sales.
During the conversation, Fischer also highlighted how transparency in the cattle market helps not just producers, but also consumers who are currently seeing higher meat prices at the store.