The North American Meat Institute (NAMI) said the bill’s latest version is more onerous and irrelevant as market prices for cattle producers have hit a seven-year high.
“Supply and demand has already driven the cattle markets back into balance without the radical government interference and convoluted mandates called for in the latest draft of the Grassley-Fischer bill,” said Julie Anna Potts, president and chief executive officer of NAMI. “Make no mistake, the bill still contains government mandates directing how producers market their cattle.”
The updated bipartisan legislation would show five to seven regions in the continental United States where minimum levels of fed cattle purchases would be made through approved pricing mechanisms.
“If this bill becomes law, there will be cattle producers who want alternative marketing arrangements (AMAs) but will instead be forced to sell on the cash-market, and the industry will turn back time to the days of commodity cattle, or worse, to government-controlled markets,” Potts said.
The National Farmers Union (NFU) released a statement on March 28 and urged Congress to pass the legislation quickly.
“Rampant consolidation in the cattle industry has made pricing in the cattle market increasingly opaque,” said Rob Larew, president of NFU. “Fair and competitive markets rely on price discovery and transparency. For farmers and ranchers to bargain effectively with packers, they need access to reliable, accurate pricing information. This bill would shed light on the market and bring about greater fairness.
The Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America (R-CALF USA) also reacted to the comprised bill saying that it is “deeply disappointed” in Congress’ attempts to address the crisis in the cattle industry.
“We don’t yet know how many US cattle operations have been needlessly destroyed by the prolonged, structurally broken marketplace as the US Department of Agriculture ceased publishing annual reports on the number of US cattle operations several years ago,” said Bill Bullard, CEO of R-CALF.
Bullard added that “based on the combination of widespread drought and the broken marketplace, we fear our industry’s losses of cattle farmers and ranchers and cattle feeders are substantial and ongoing.”
The group said 1,000 small independent feedlots were lost between 2020 and 2021.