The Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) applauded the efforts of Iowa Sens. Charles Grassley and Joni Ernst and others on the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee to examine problems from the lack of transparency and fairness in today’s cattle markets.
During a hearing last week in Washington, the senators questioned cattle raisers, economists and others on ways to create more price transparency, improve market access for producers and reduce unfair practices by meat processors.
“Livestock producers’ livelihood depends on providing care for animals and ensuring a healthy and safe product for consumers, and it’s essential they receive equal opportunities when marketing their animals,” said Craig Hill, a Warren County livestock producer and IFBF president. “Today, many cattle farmers are taking a loss on each animal raised, while grocery store prices continue to rise. Trust in our food supply chain is essential; and livestock producers deserve a transparent marketplace to have confidence in the system.”
Zippy Duvall, American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) president, agreed. “It’s time for Congress and the administration to get serious about determining what’s driving the imbalance,” he said.
Two unusual events
Steps to address issues
The Iowa Farm Bureau, working in tandem with AFBF, has taken several steps to address the problems in the beef industry. Iowa’s county Farm Bureau delegates developed a range of policy recommendations designed to improve cattle markets, which were subsequently adopted by AFBF. Those recommendations call for a larger share of negotiated sales in fed cattle markets to improve price transparency and taking a regional approach to any federal effort to improve negotiated sales.
In addition, AFBF adopted an Iowa recommendation to establish a group to study regional mandatory minimum cash cattle trade to help determine levels needed to achieve robust price discovery.
AFBF, working with other cattle groups, urged the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to expedite its renewal of the Livestock Mandatory Reporting system. That renewal should include making formula base prices subject to the same reporting requirements as negotiated cash cattle sales, as well as the creation of a contract library to provide more pricing information to producers, the organization said.
AFBF and other groups have also demanded that the Department of Justice issue a status report on its investigation of cattle pricing. That investigation was launched after the disruptions from the Kansas meat plant fire and was expanded to include cattle pricing issues during the pandemic. But the department has yet to issue a report on the investigation.
In addition, IFBF, AFBF and other groups are working to encourage the investment in and the development of independent regional beef processors to improve the overall market for cattle.