The American Farm Bureau is reviewing a recent hearing regarding livestock markets.
On Thursday, lawmakers on the House Ag Committee held a hearing on livestock market issues. The committee heard testimony from packers, producers, other lawmakers, and USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. According to Scott Bennett – American Farm Bureau congressional relations director – one of the hearing’s speakers included Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley.
“It’s the first time in modern history that a sitting Senator has come across the Capitol to the House side to testify in front of a committee,” said Bennett. “Senator Grassley has an effort around mandatory minimum negotiated trade and he plead his case in front of the committee.”
During his remarks, Grassley stated that while he appreciates recent actions from the White House and Secretary Vilsack regarding cattle market transparency, now is the time for Congress to do its part.
“As the nation’s number one producer of meat, Iowans rely on market information provided by Mandatory Price Reporting to run their businesses,” said Grassley. “The reauthorization of Mandatory Price Reporting is the vehicle available where we can add additional price transparency and price discovery measures. Over the past 18 months we’ve seen massive price discrepancies between fed cattle and boxed beef. This is pushing cattle producers and feeders to the brink of having to selling their operations.”
Bennett says the hearing included a discussion on anticipated Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration pending rules.
“There are three anticipated rules from USDA,” said Bennett. “One will involve undue preference, one will involve competition and the third, that is relatively new, will involve the tournament pay system in poultry. Secretary Vilsack, in his testimony, said we could anticipate those rules by the end of this year.”
Grassley noted that the “Big Four” beef packing companies maintain control over 80 percent of the cattle industry. Grassley concluded by calling on the House Ag Committee to join the Senate in including “real reform” in Mandatory Price Reporting.