WASHINGTON – The House Agriculture Committee heard testimony from various viewpoints regarding the state of beef and cattle markets in America.
In response to a line of questioning during the hearing, North American Meat Institute said the complexities of the beef and cattle markets are driven by supply and demand and have more participants than just packers and producers who add value during production.
“Too often, the policy debate around the cattle and beef industry is an overly-simplified discussion limited to cattle producers versus beef packers. It is imperative policymakers remember: packers don’t buy fed cattle from cow-calf producers; nor do packers sell beef to consumers,” said Julie Anna Potts, president and chief executive officer of the Meat Institute. “Congress and USDA should not make radical changes to the cattle and beef markets; such changes will up-end the markets, increase costs for the entire supply chain, including for consumers during this time of record inflation, and bring unintended consequences.”
Potts said the hearing by the Ag Committee on the markets was incomplete and ignored other factors in the determination of prices for producers and consumers.
CEOs of Cargill, Tyson Foods Inc., JBS, and National Beef Packing Co. also participated in the hearing and provided testimony. Tyson Foods’ Donnie King shared his testimony on April 26 regarding meat producer interactions with current markets.
In his opening statement, David Scott (D-Ga.) stated his position of concern about the direction of the industry.
“I am concerned that in the last 40 years, this country has lost its grip on the ‘free market’ component of capitalism,” he said. “Fair and competitive markets should engender opportunities for many, and not just benefit a few at the top. We created antitrust laws for a reason, and unfortunately, we have gotten away from enforcing anti-competitive practices, and we have moved toward a system that prioritizes efficiency at all costs.”
The entire hearing can be seen here.
Don Schiefelbein, president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, also testified at the hearing and urged House members to support key policies with support across the cattle industry including a cattle contract library, Livestock Mandatory Reporting (LMR) reauthorization, and investments in small regional processing capacity expansion.
“Broadly supported proposals have seen tremendous legislative success in this chamber recently,” Schiefelbein said. “However, repeatedly belaboring the same divisive issues has detracted from that collaborative work to the benefit of no one. It is time to move on and focus on areas where agreement can be reached.”