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Iowa Cattlemen's Association requests Senate Agriculture Committee hearing

Iowa Cattlemen's Association requests Senate Agriculture Committee hearing

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JULY 2, 2020 - Iowa Cattlemen's Association

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

“For years, ICA leaders and members have worked towards solutions to level the playing field and bring producers more leverage in the fed cattle markets,” said Cora Fox, ICA’s director of government relations. “Sen. Grassley has been a strong supporter of our efforts and we are completely on board with his recently-introduced cattle marketing bill. However, not all congressional representatives and members of the Senate Agriculture Committee are treating the issue with the same urgency. A hearing would help bring attention to the issues and possible solutions.”

Grassley’s bill, which is co-sponsored by Sens. Tester (D-MT), Ernst (R-IA), Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Rounds (R-SD), Smith (D-MN), and Daines (R-MT), would mandate a minimum of 50 percent cash trade by each large packing plant, and also require a maximum 14 day delivery period. Currently, cash trade accounts for approximately 25 percent of fed cattle sales and is unbalanced across regions of the United States, which has led to decreased price discovery.

Earlier in June, Grassley requested the hearing.

The ICA sent a letter shortly after to Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), saying, “These problems have plagued our industry for nearly two decades, and have been exacerbated with the two most recent ‘black swan’ events—the Holcomb, Kansas plant fire and COVID-19. Both of these events, marked by a rapid price increase in the boxed beef market and the paradoxical decline in the live cattle market, have highlighted the instability within our markets. Our greatest fear—the fear that our industry will no longer remain independent and a source of viable income for farm families—is being realized.”

Livestock Mandatory Reporting is scheduled to be reauthorized by September 30, 2020. Many stakeholders are advocating for cattle marketing changes to be included in the reauthorization.

Read on for ICA’s full letter:

June 29, 2020

The Honorable Pat Roberts

Chairman

Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry

United States Senate

The Honorable Debbie Stabenow

Ranking Member

Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry

United States Senate

Dear Chairman Roberts and Ranking Member Stabenow,

As the only grassroots organization representing independent cattle producers in the state of Iowa, we feel it is of utmost importance that we carry the messages of our members forward to key decision makers. Cattle producers in Iowa, and across the nation, have expressed grave concern regarding the severe lack of cash trade, limited price discovery, and imbalance in leverage between those who raise cattle and those who process them into the beef we consume. With an increasing prevalence of extreme market shifts and limited ability of producers to mitigate market risk in the beef cattle industry, it is imperative that the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry respond to Sen. Grassley’s request for a hearing with a sense of urgency.

These problems have plagued our industry for nearly two decades, and have been exacerbated with the two most recent “black swan” events—the Holcomb, Kan. plant fire and COVID-19. Both of these events, marked by a rapid price increase in the boxed beef market and the paradoxical decline in the live cattle market, have highlighted the instability within our markets. Our greatest fear—the fear that our industry will no longer remain independent and a source of viable income for farm families—is being realized.

The Iowa Cattlemen’s Association calls on the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry to hold a hearing to examine possible solutions intended to address concerns within the beef cattle industry through reauthorization of Livestock Mandatory Reporting (LMR). This discussion should include the proposed 50 percent cash trade mandate with 14 day delivery brought forth by Sens. Grassley and Tester. A hearing would provide a valuable opportunity to publicly discuss proposed changes that would benefit the beef cattle industry in its entirety. This ultimately supports our ability as producers to continue to sustainably raise high quality, safe beef for our food supply.

We respectfully request this Committee convene its members to have thoughtful discussion focused on addressing both long- term and short-term issues facing the beef cattle industry in preparation of LMR reauthorization this fall.

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