Cindy Axne

U.S. Representative Cindy Axne

(Washington, D.C.) -- Efforts continue in Washington, D.C. to create a level playing field for Midwest cattle producers.

Last Thursday, Iowa Representatives Cindy Axne (D-IA-03), Abby Finkenauer (D-IA-03) and Dave Loebsack (D-IA-02) introduced legislation that would increase transparency in the U.S. cattle markets, and spur added price discovery and competition for Iowa producers using cash markets.

Speaking with the Iowa Agribusiness Radio Network via Zoom Thursday afternoon, Axne said producers have seen significant market disruptions from the Holcomb, Kansas plant fire last year as well as the current COVID-19 pandemic. However, she added issues with the marketplace are not a new problem facing Iowa cattlemen.

“We’ve seen so much happening as a result of COVID-19,” Axne said. “Unfortunately, Iowa producers are taking a brunt when it comes to the cattle market right now. The fact that the majority of Iowa producers are smaller producers and deal with the cash market, it’s left them out in the cold on a lot of opportunity while those who are in the contracted markets have stayed safe as a result of the supply chains they have in place.”

“We have to make sure we help our Iowa cattle producers,” she added. “This bill I’m putting in place will increase transparency and level the playing field to make sure we can have price transparency and opportunity for our farmers here in Iowa.”

The bill would require processors to have a minimum of 50 percent of their weekly slaughter purchases from cash market sales, and require a maximum 14-day delivery period. Axne says her legislation is a companion piece to Senate Bill 3693, which was introduced earlier this year by Iowa Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst.

“I’m hoping that through this simple legislation – that 50 percent of a processor’s weekly slaughter must come from independent producers in the cash market – will help us out with (the issue),” Axne said. “I think this is something that we can push through. I’m glad to see Senators Ernst and Grassley on the senate side working on it. I’m proud to be able to introduce a house bill so that hopefully we can put this into law.”

Iowa producers typically participate in the cash market around 50 percent, while nationwide participation has steadily been decreasing to as low as 5 percent in some states.