Nebraska Cattlemen’s Voice Heard at Senate Agriculture Committee hearing on Cattle Markets
Today, the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry held a hearing “Examining Markets, Transparency, and Prices from Cattle Producer to Consumer” to focus on ongoing market challenges that threaten the profitability and business continuity of cattlemen and women.
Nebraska Cattlemen shared members’ concerns regarding the live cattle market, processing capacity, and market transparency via written testimony, read into the record by Senator Deb Fischer. Nebraska Cattlemen’s comments focused on how cattle producer members and their livelihoods are directly impacted by the cattle market’s ability or inability to send appropriate price signals up and down the beef cattle supply chain.
“Price discovery is a public good. Negotiated cash market participants invest resources to negotiate and discover cash market prices for the entire industry. “- wrote William H. Rhea III, President – Nebraska Cattlemen, “Until the price discovery “public good” is better valued by both beef packers and some cattle feeders, the industry will continue on this downward spiral until there is little to no negotiated trade left and other outside markets will have to be relied on for price determination.”
Nebraska Cattlemen continued to share members’ concerns regarding processing capacity and throughput noting that adequate beef processing capacity is critical to maintaining profitability in the cattle industry. Currently, not only is there a shortage of processing capacity to meet the available fed cattle supply, there is also a reduction of processing throughput across the country resulting in a negative effect on cattle producer leverage in fed cattle negotiations because of lack of competition.
Nebraska Cattlemen comments concluded highlighting the need to increase market transparency through the development of a cattle contract specification library and ensuring that USDA finds ways to report collected information in a manner that ensures confidentiality, but prevents USDA-AMS from withholding from the public information collected in Livestock Mandatory Reporting (LMR).
Nebraska Cattlemen Live Cattle Market Focused Actions:
- Nebraska Cattlemen continues to work towards addressing member concerns regarding price discovery and price determination through operation of Nebraska Cattlemen’s Market Reporting Service and market transparency components in Senator Deb Fischer’s Cattle Market Transparency Act initially introduced in the 116th Congress and re-introduced in the 117th
- Nebraska Cattlemen continues to work with state and federally elected officials to address labor shortages for Nebraska Cattlemen’s producer members and supporting industries within the beef supply and marketing chain. Over the past year, Nebraska Cattlemen has been working with state and federal legislators and regulators to address the growing labor shortage by continuing to identify and act on solutions with Nebraska’s federal delegation to reform immigration policy to advance needed H2A visa restructuring and ensure state and federal resources are available for a legal immigrant workforce to successfully thrive in our communities. Nebraska’s Congressional delegation – in ongoing collaboration with Nebraska Cattlemen – has also identified the need to expand programs to help train Nebraska’s future food growers and processors through apprenticeship and specialized on-site training programs.
- Nebraska Cattlemen was also the first organization send a letter to the Attorney General requesting the Department of Justice open an antitrust investigation of beef pricing margins, emphasizing that – for the continuity of business for the production sector of the cattle industry, that evidence of any fraudulent business practices within the beef meatpacking industry be identified and rectified. Nebraska Cattlemen continues press for an investigation status update and investigation results, view a DOJ investigation timeline HERE.