AMES, Iowa — Cattle producers are hoping the latest effort to pass legislation to require more price transparency in the spot market will succeed. The Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act was officially introduced in Congress last week and has the backing of leading Republicans and Democrats in several cattle-producing states.
“It’s very, very bipartisan,” said Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa.
Grassley joined several leaders of the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association on Nov. 22 for a press conference promoting the legislation.
The proposed bill would establish mandatory minimums for cash and negotiated grid trading, based on an 18-month rolling average in each cattle marketing region. It would also require reporting of cattle weights and slaughter deliveries two weeks in advance. It would establish a publicly available cattle contract library, would set penalties for violations by packers, and would require more mandatory marketing data to be available.
Grassley has introduced similar price discovery legislation a number of times, but it has never been passed by Congress. The path forward this time may not be any easier, Grassley said, but he is encouraged by the fact the Department of Justice during both the Trump and Biden administrations has started to show some interest in antitrust behavior and also by the fact that President Joe Biden has said legislation regarding livestock is needed.
The legislation is aimed at helping independent beef producers who are often competing with contractors or vertically integrated operations. Leverage is key, according to Brad Koomia, a beef producer from Sioux County, Iowa.
“I could go weeks and weeks this summer when I could not even get a bid,” he said, adding that cattle are a perishable commodity and timeliness of bids is important.
The proposed legislation has the backing of the entire Iowa Congressional delegation, Grassley said. It was officially introduced in the Senate by Grassley; Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb.; Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont; and Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon. Co-sponsors in the House are Rep. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa, and Rep. Randy Feenstra, R-Iowa. Many other senators and representatives and the National Farmers Union have also voiced support, Grassley said.