Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman has announced a new rule that requires large cattle, swine and lamb packers and importers to provide contract information, including pricing, for public dissemination.

The new reporting will provide information on 80 to 95% of all cattle, boxed beef, slaughter hog, sheep, lamb meat and imported lamb meat transactions.

"Price reporting will help level the playing field for small farmers and ranchers, allowing them to better compete in an increasingly concentrated agricultural economy," said Glickman.

Under the new rule, packers who annually slaughter an average of 125,000 cattle or 100,000 swine or slaughter or process an average of 75,000 lambs are required to report to the U.S. Department of Agriculture transaction details involving purchases and sales of livestock, boxed beef, boxed lamb and lamb carcasses. Importers who annually import an average of 5,000 metric tons of lamb meat products also must report.

New market news reports available to the public will include information covering the prior day swine market, forward contract and formula marketing arrangement cattle purchases, packer-owned cattle and sheep information, sales of imported boxed lamb cuts and live lamb premiums and discounts. In some instances, information being collected under the current voluntary market news reporting program will be required.

In order to assist packers and importers required to report information under the new rule, USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service will provide technical assistance and training to ensure compliance with the electronic data transmission requirements of the rule.

The final rule is on view at the Federal Register. It was published Dec. 1. It will be implemented 60 days later.

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