Nebraska Cattlemen’s Voice Amplified in U.S. House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture and U.S. Senate Judiciary Hearings
This week, the U.S. House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture held a hearing titled “State of the Beef Supply Chain: Shocks, Recovery, and Rebuilding” 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, labor challenges, and market transparency via written testimony, submitted into the record by Congressman Don Bacon. 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 and highlighted efforts in the House of Representatives that echo the work of Senator Fischer’s Cattle Market Transparency Act in the Senate.
“Adequate beef processing capacity is critical to maintaining profitability in the beef and cattle industry and ensuring a steady supply of beef and beef products to consumers. Currently, there is not only a shortage of adequate processing capacity, there is also a reduction of processing throughput across the country.”-wrote William H. Rhea III, President – Nebraska Cattlemen.
The voice of Nebraska Cattlemen was also heard in the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing titled “Beefing up Competition: Examining America’s Food Supply Chain” to focus on the ongoing competition issue in the meatpacking industry. Issues highlighted during the hearing focused on meatpacking industry consolidation and the reduction of competition in the meatpacking, distribution, and grocery industries.
Nebraska Cattlemen emphasized concerns on how shrinking beef processing capacity and meatpacking industry consolidation negatively impact live cattle markets via written testimony, read into the record by Senator Ben Sasse. Nebraska Cattlemen’s comments focused on the rapid acceleration of consolidation in the meatpacking industry and questioned the lack of investment in processing capacity by the four largest companies in the meatpacking industry, despite strong demand signals to expand – compounded by record profits.
“The U.S. meatpacking industry has consolidated rapidly in the last two decades, as today’s largest meatpacking companies have built very large plants, with many independent meatpackers disappearing. Today, four meatpacking companies handle nearly 80 percent of all steer and heifer slaughter; just two decades ago, concentration was less than half as high.”—wrote William H. Rhea III, President – Nebraska Cattlemen.
Nebraska Cattlemen continues to work for our producers, pasture to plate, utilizing platforms like these hearings to amplify members’ voices regarding ongoing issues within the fragile beef supply chain. Nebraska Cattlemen leadership and staff will continue working with stakeholders, elected officials and regulators to expand transparency and improve competition in the marketplace.