The U.S. Cattlemen's Association and National Farmers Union led a letter Wednesday to leaders of the Senate Agriculture Committee, calling on them to hold a hearing on reauthorization of the Livestock Mandatory Reporting program.
The Livestock Mandatory (price) Reporting program is set to expire Sept. 30. Rather than simply tagging a program extension, or full five-year reauthorization, onto an appropriations bill, some livestock groups and advocates want hearings on the program and reforms, particularly given some of the volatility in livestock markets. The LMR, which goes back to 1999, require price reporting for cattle, boxed beef, swine and lambs.
"This year represents an opportunity to make meaningful change to the program to increase transparency and true price discovery," USCA stated.
The agricultural groups, including several state affiliates, wrote Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., with their issues. The letter states, "Across the United States, livestock producers are facing unprecedented challenges to their livelihood. As these threats rise, and market prices fall, more and more families have come to the realization that they simply cannot keep their bottom line 'in the black' at the end of the year."
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, livestock markets have come under question as packing plants were forced to close or continue being hit with a high volume of cases among their workforce. That led to record boxed beef prices and spread between the fed cattle prices. A similar problem occurred in swine as well. Cattle producers have seen similar events, such as when a fire at a Tyson plant in Kansas last summer caused fed cattle prices to fall while boxed beef prices rose. These situations have led to calls from the industry and lawmakers for investigations and changes in how markets operate.
USCA and NFU wrote that the U.S. Senate has about 30 work days before the September 30 expiration to hold hearings and work on legislation. "LMR is a complex program," they wrote, "a hearing would convene relevant stakeholders to publicly discuss needed program changes and provide additional information on the proposals that have already been introduced."
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, has been calling on hearings as well, as he and Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., have introduced a bill they want to be part of the LMR. Their bill would require packers to buy 50% of their cattle from the spot market and take delivery within 14 days of slaughter ... a 50/14 rule. The two senators had an op-ed in USA Today earlier this week on their proposal. Grassley has repeatedly said the bill would garner enough support in committee to be part of an LMR bill, but Roberts opposes it.
Chris Clayton can be reached at Chris.Clayton@dtn.com
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