Cattle

Photo by Anna Hastert

(Washington, D.C.) -- The Iowa Cattlemen’s Association continues efforts to reform cattle marketing, echoing Senator Chuck Grassley’s request for a Senate Agriculture Committee hearing regarding the issue.

ICA director of government relations Cora Fox says the organization’s leaders and members have for years worked towards solutions to level the playing field and bring producers more leverage in the fed cattle markets. Senator Grassley recently introduced a cattle marketing bill with bipartisan co-sponsorship that would mandate a minimum of 50-percent cash trade by each large packing plant, and also require a maximum 14-day delivery period.

“What this does over time is improve that price discovery that is so vital to our cattle markets,” Fox said. “It gives a little bit more leverage back to the independent cattle producer.”

Fox says not all congressional representatives and members of the Senate Ag Committee are treating the issue with the same urgency as Grassley and ICA. She adds a hearing would help bring attention to the issues and possible solutions.

“I know that Chairman (Pat) Roberts (R-KS) on that committee has been reluctant to look into this proposal, this 50-14 mandate that Senator Grassley and Senator (Jon) Tester (D-MT) have brought forward,” Fox said. “This call for a Senate Ag Committee hearing is intended to keep that conversation going.”

Currently, cash trade accounts for approximately 25 percent of fed cattle sales and is unbalanced across regions of the U.S., which has led to decreased price discovery. Grassley initially requested a hearing in June, which was shortly followed by a letter from ICA to Chairman Roberts. Fox notes progression of finding solutions is vital given the current issues impacting society.

“We’ve had two extreme black swan events within a year,” Fox said. “Our producers are really wondering if they can continue to weather the storm. This has been financially devastating for the producers in our industry. Most recently what we saw with COVID-19 is the struggle many producers had to get bids on their cattle here in Iowa.”

At this time, Fox says a Senate Ag Committee hearing has not been scheduled.

“I know those conversations are continuing and I look forward to learning that will happen,” she said. “It’s a request that’s coming from the producers and constituents that Senator Grassley represents. This is something we fully support and that we hope to see happen in the near future.”

Livestock Mandatory Reporting is scheduled to be reauthorized by September 30th of this year. Many stakeholders are advocating for cattle marketing changes to be included in the reauthorization.