Iowa Senator Joni Ernst supports two separate bills that address cattle market transparency concerns.
In March, U.S. Senator Deb Fischer of Nebraska introduced the Cattle Market Transparency Act of 2021 and Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley reintroduced his “50-14” cattle market transparency legislation. Fischer’s bill is opposed by the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association, while Grassley’s bill has received criticism from the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. In a recent conference call with reports, Senator Ernst was asked which piece of legislation she would support in the Senate.
“I support them both,” Ernst said. “I think this is a great issue for us. It’s one that the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association has brought to us. I do support those initiatives. What we will see is a little bit of pushback of course coming from different areas of the United States. Animal agriculture is a little different in how they handle their markets. You see those beef producers maybe in Texas or Oklahoma that have a different thought on how it should be handled, but I support both of the initiatives of Chuck Grassley and Deb Fischer. I think it works quite well for those who are producing cattle across the Midwest.”
NCBA recently released a statement saying Grassley’s bill “misses the mark” and that any legislative solution to increased price discovery “must account for the unique dynamics within each geographic region.” Grassley was asked about the NCBA’s comments in his weekly press call with farm reporters.
“I’d like to know why the National Cattlemen’s Association, or whatever their name is, why they don’t want what the independent producers want which would be 50 percent,” Grassley said. “What’s wrong with that? I want to make sure that this national group is not representing the views of the meat packers to a greater extent and not worried about the family farmer. Too often we see agriculture groups getting in with ‘Big Business’ and when these four biggest producers have 80 percent of the market – and there’s not a lot of competition – it just seems to me that anything that opens up competition is going to help every beef producer.”
Grassley’s bill would require that a minimum of 50 percent of a meat packer’s weekly volume of beef slaughter be purchased on the open or spot market.
Some of the proactive provisions in Senator Fischer’s bill include the creation of a contract library, reports on the number of cattle scheduled for delivery, and the requirement that USDA report all information mandated by Livestock Mandatory Reporting. Iowa Cattlemen’s Association, however, disagrees with Fischer’s concept of using a three-year average of negotiated cash and negotiated grid purchases to determine a required baseline.