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(Journal photo by Lacey Vilhauer.)

On Oct. 20, a bipartisan bill to establish the Cattle Contract Library Act of 2021 was introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressmen Dusty Johnson, a South Dakota Republican, and Henry Cuellar, a Texas Democrat. Frank Lucas, an Oklahoma Republican, joined in support of the legislation.

The bill is designed to create a contract library for cattle producers through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agriculture Marketing Service. A pork contract library already exists and after substantial beef market instability in recent years, along with the findings of the July 2020 Boxed Beef & Fed Cattle Price Spread Investigation Report, experts recommended the library.

“Last year, following the market strains caused by Tyson’s Holcomb fire and the COVID-19 pandemic, USDA released an analysis of beef market conditions,” Lucas explained. “Both anomalies highlighted the vulnerabilities that plague both the beef supply chain and the American food supply chain. Congress and stakeholders have long been discussing needed reforms to ensure fair competition and price discovery in agriculture markets and more recently, solutions to the various policy recommendations framed by USDA in their Boxed Beef and Fed Cattle Price Spread Investigation report. In order for ranchers to have a truly transparent, market-driven economy, cattlemen and women must be able to leverage marketing data while negotiating the price of cattle.”

Cattlemen are often left in the dark when making marketing judgments for their operations because they are unaware of contract terms with packers, making it difficult to negotiate fair exchanges, bill supporters say. The contract library is designed to level the playing field to a degree and provide cattlemen with more market data before they sell cattle. As per the bill’s literature, the U.S. Department of Agriculture will regularly update the library with weekly and monthly reports for cattlemen to utilize in their marketing decisions. Additionally, the bill allows USDA to issue grants to universities and associations that assist producers in cattle marketing and market analysis.

“Producers have been asking for increased transparency and leverage in the cattle market for years, the Cattle Contract Library Act will provide granular data in near real time, ensuring producers understand the value of marketing agreements,” Johnson said. “Data drives marketing decisions and a contract library will provide much-needed leverage for independent producers.”

The Cattle Contract Library Act of 2021 is supported by the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, U.S. Cattlemen’s Association, National Farmers Union, and Livestock Marketing Association, as well as numerous state livestock associations. The bill must be approved by the full House and would also need Senate consideration before it could be signed into law.

Lacey Vilhauer can be reached at 620-227-1871 or lvilhauer@hpj.com.

(1) comment

MikeS

This is the weakest legislative lip service job we have so don't buy into it.. IT does nothing to stop the corruption trust me and a few others.. Call you legislators to: Pass 50/14 (SB 949) and American Beef Labeling Act (SB 2716) and personally I'd call for 100% negotiated no contracts period.. And Imports are fraudulently marked for sale here to our consumers. Just like the bogus and corrupt "beef checkoff" It is all a scam filled with corruption and money laundering..

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