Cattle groups react to new cattle market transparency bill


This week, U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) introduced the Cattle Market Transparency Act of 2020 that she says would restore transparency and accountability in the cattle market by establishing regional negotiated cash minimums and equipping producers with more market information. 

The United States Cattlemen’s Association also says the Cattle Market Transparency Act of 2020 focuses on two main elements: ensuring regionally sufficient negotiated cash trade and equipping producers with more information. USCA Board Member Lee Reichmuth said, “As a Nebraska cattle producer, I echo the same sentiments expressed by Senator Fischer on the impacts to our livelihood of increased packer competition, decreased competition, and a declining cash market. This bill builds off the recommendations provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in its Boxed Beef and Fed Cattle Price Spread Investigation Report and discussions producers across the U.S. are having in response to historically low cattle prices and a dysfunctional marketplace.”  

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association said they are pursuing a voluntary approach to price discovery. “Price discovery is an issue of critical importance to cow/calf producers, stockers, backgrounders, and feeders across the United States, and more negotiated trade is needed throughout the cattle feeding regions to ensure sufficient price discovery. That is why all of NCBA’s 46 state affiliate organizations unanimously adopted a fed cattle price discovery policy at our 2020 Summer Business Meeting. This policy directs NCBA to pursue a voluntary approach to price discovery that includes triggers established by a working group of producer members which, if tripped due to a lack of regionally sufficient negotiated trade, would prompt NCBA to seek legislative or regulatory solutions — such as those outlined in Sen. Fischer’s bill — to achieve robust price discovery.

“Since the adoption of this policy, that producer group has been diligently working to establish these triggers and identify a path to increase negotiated trade across all cattle feeding regions. We anticipate that the subgroup will meet the October 1st deadline set by the policy to establish regional triggers.

“Sen. Fischer’s bill explores many avenues to improve transparency in the cattle markets. The creation of a cattle contracts library and clarification of confidentiality rules will provide crucial data to cattle producers as they seek to make informed marketing decisions. However, our policy dictates that the voluntary framework we are developing be allowed the opportunity to succeed or fail before we can lend our support to regional mandatory minimums for negotiated trade. We welcome a continued dialogue with Sen. Fischer and her colleagues on ways to achieve robust price discovery for all cattle producers.”

Steve Nelson, President of the Nebraska Farm Bureau said, “On behalf of our farm and ranch members I want to thank Senator Fischer for her dedication and commitment to Nebraska beef producers. Senator Fischer’s Cattle Market Transparency Act of 2020 is a positive step forward in identifying actions to address concerns and challenges surrounding cattle markets. Many of the areas identified in Senator Fischer’s legislation match up with recommendations offered by the Nebraska Farm Bureau’s Cattle Markets Task Force. We look forward to working with Senator Fischer to enact change in cattle markets that will lead to positive outcomes for our state’s beef producers.”

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