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Agricultural News

Frank Lucas on the Newly Proposed Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act

Wed, 17 Nov 2021 19:41:07 CST

Frank Lucas on the Newly Proposed Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act Despite warnings from economic specialists to congress to not artificially dictate how cattle should be sold in U.S. markets, another bill hopes to return fairness to the cattle marketplace dominated by four major meat packers. Recently, U.S. Senators proposed a bipartisan compromise cattle market proposal, known as the Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act. The bill would amend the Packers and Stockyards Act of 1921.

Oklahoma Congressman Frank Lucas told Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Director Ron Hays that he is reluctant about the bill.

“I almost want to describe it as the great compromise between the northerners,” Lucas said. “Your lead people are a senator from Iowa, a senator from Nebraska, joined in with a senator in Montana and a senator from Oregon. I have seen what appear to be section-by-section breakdowns. The basic gist of the language is to do something they do in Iowa.”

According to U.S. Senator Deb Fischer, the sponsor of the bill, The legislation will:

1. Establish regional mandatory minimum thresholds of negotiated cash and negotiated grid trades based on each region’s 18-month average trade to enable price discovery in cattle marketing regions. To establish regionally sufficient levels of negotiated cash and negotiated grid trade, the Secretary of Agriculture in consultation with the Chief Economist, would seek public comment on those levels, set the minimums, and then implement them. No regional minimum level can be more than three times that of the lowest regional minimum, and no regional minimum can be lower than the 18-month average trade at the time the bill is enacted.

2. Require the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to create and maintain a publicly available library of marketing contracts between packers and producers in a manner that ensures confidentiality.

3. Prohibit the USDA from using confidentiality as a justification for not reporting and make clear that USDA must report all LMR information, and they must do so in a manner that ensures confidentiality.

4. Require more timely reporting of cattle carcass weights as well as requiring a packer to report the number of cattle scheduled to be delivered for slaughter each day for the next 14 days.

As of now, no bill has been filed, but it has already received criticism.

So far, the bill leaves a lot to be discerned by the USDA secretary and chief economist. While that strategy may have worked for Iowa, Lucas said he is not sure the same would work well on a national level.

“While I have great faith in the secretary of agriculture and I have generally been very fond of most of the secretaries I have served under or lived with as a farmer, that is a lot of authority, responsibility and interpretation coming out of the secretary’s office,” Lucas said. “As is the case for any executive branch officer, it depends on where they come from, what their background is and what the White House is telling them to do.”

While the bill, and others like it, may not be the golden ticket for the cattle industry Lucas said there is no denying the enormous amount of pressure cattle producers are under due to poor price discovery at a time when beef sales are breaking records.

No matter how much Congress would like to help cattle producers, there is not much that can be done while the Department of Justice continues its investigations into anticompetitive behavior by the meat-packing industry.

“That is the real key issue here,” Lucas said. “Right now, we are waiting on (the DOJ) whether there have been criminal violations.”

Hit the LISTEN BAR below to hear Ron Hays and Frank Lucas as they discuss the newly proposed Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act and more.



Listen to Ron's conversation with Lucas here.
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