Cattle Producers Supplement Congressional Hearing RecordsTue, 10 Aug 2021 08:19:09 CDT
In the wake of unprecedented meat supply chain disruptions and obvious cattle market failures, congressional members have made numerous calls for antitrust investigations, the U.S. Department of Justice has announced several criminal indictments against officials of major meatpacking companies, and both chambers of Congress have held recent hearings.
Three congressional hearings have now been held for the purpose of assisting Congress in determining the appropriate action necessary to restore functional markets and a reliable food supply chain. The first hearing was held by the full U.S. Senate agriculture committee on June 23, and the second and third hearings were both held on July 28, one by the full U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary and the other by the House agriculture committee’s Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture.
R-CALF USA, the nation’s largest trade association that exclusively represents cattle producers, supplemented the formal records for each of the three congressional hearings with written testimonies, and has received confirmation of their inclusion into the official records.
According to the group’s CEO, Bill Bullard, the official hearing record provides evidentiary support for any future legal reforms that Congress may pass to correct the ills identified during the hearings.
He said his group wanted to ensure that Congress had strong evidence in support of the two immediate triage reforms that cattle producers are asking Congress to pass to restore competition to U.S. cattle markets and the U.S. beef market.
“First, we’re urging Congress to immediately pass the Grassley/Tester Bill (S.949) that forces packers to begin competing for available cattle by requiring them to purchase at least half their weekly cattle needs from the competitive cash market. Second, we’re asking Congress to pass a new mandatory country of origin labeling (MCOOL) law to restore competition for beef in grocery stores by empowering consumers to choose beef exclusively produced by United States cattle producers,” Bullard said.
In its testimony included in the two latest hearings, R-CALF USA created two new charts to show the profound and unprecedented disconnect between cattle prices and retail beef prices that has persisted since at least January 2015, and the profound inverse relationship between estimated upward trending packer margins and downward trending returns to cattle feeders, also evident since at least early 2015.
“Now that the hearings are over, we’re hopeful the leadership of the Senate agriculture committee will quickly bring the Grassley/Tester Bill up for a vote and that Congress will soon introduce an MCOOL bill so we can begin the process of making both consumers and cattle producers whole again,” Bullard concluded.
Note: R-CALF USA’s testimony submitted for the record of the earlier June 23 Senate agriculture hearing is available here.
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