Sen. Fischer Introduces Cattle Market Price Discovery and Transparency Act
This week, Nebraska Senator Deb Fischer led a group of senators including Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), in announcing the planned introduction of the Cattle Market Price Discovery and Transparency Act. This bill is an updated iteration of her previous Cattle Market Transparency Act that includes a few changes that led to the endorsement of the legislation by Sen. Grassley and Sen. Tester, two members who have championed other efforts to reform cattle markets including the bill known as “50-14” which would have mandated a nationwide mandate for packers to purchase 50 percent of their cattle through negotiated cash sales and limit owning them to a maximum of 14 days.
The new Cattle Market Price Discovery and Transparency Act have the following four major provisions:
- Establish regional mandatory minimum thresholds of negotiated cash and negotiated grid trades based on each region’s 18-month average trade to enable price discovery in cattle marketing regions. In order to establish regionally sufficient levels of negotiated cash and negotiated grid trade, the Secretary of Agriculture in consultation with the Chief Economist, would seek public comment on those levels, set the minimums, and then implement them. No regional minimum level can be more than three times that of the lowest regional minimum, and no regional minimum can be lower than the 18-month average trade at the time the bill is enacted.
- Require the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to create and maintain a publicly available library of marketing contracts between packers and producers in a manner that ensures confidentiality.
- Prohibit the USDA from using confidentiality as a justification for not reporting and make clear that USDA must report all LMR information, and they must do so in a manner that ensures confidentiality.
- Require more timely reporting of cattle carcass weights as well as requiring a packer to report the number of cattle scheduled to be delivered for slaughter each day for the next 14 days.
NEFB President Mark McHargue provided the following statement which was included in the news release announcing the new bill:
“For nearly two years, Nebraska’s cattle producers have been asking for needed reform within the cattle marketplace. The Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act delivers that reform which will provide more price discovery and needed transparency to arguably one of the more complex agricultural marketing systems which exist. Cash cattle transactions are one of the truest ways to provide price discovery, yet a one size fits all approach rarely works to address any issue. The sound public policy concepts developed, and the overall leadership provided by Senator Deb Fischer is truly appreciated by Nebraska’s cattle producing families. Now is the time to move this important piece of legislation forward to ensure our nation’s cattle industry maintains a bright economic future.”
With the passage of the federal infrastructure bill, Nebraska Farm Bureau has beenreceiving a lot of questions regarding its support for the legislation. First and foremost, it is important to note that the bill which passed the House of Representatives on Friday, November 5 is not President Biden’s Build Back Better/Reconciliation/Human Infrastructure Bill. The bill that was passed is a “hard” infrastructure package which provides billions of dollars toward roads, bridges, broadband, western water projects, and other long-time Farm Bureau infrastructure priorities. Nebraska Farm Bureau (NEFB) has long been a supporter of investing in infrastructure as a fundamental function of government. Overall, the bill provides more than $550 billion in new infrastructure spending over five years. The bill pledges funding for the following key programs:
- $110 billion – Roads, Bridges, & Major projects
- $73 billion – Power and Grid
- $66 billion – Passenger and Freight rail
- $65 billion – Broadband
- $55 billion – Water Infrastructure
- $39.2 billion – Public Transit
- $25 billion – Airports
- $17.3 billion – Ports and Waterways
- $11 billion – Safety
The bill also includes a huge NEFB priority; an exemption for livestock and insect haulers from Hours of Service regulations within a 150 air-mile radius from their final destination. This provision was developed from legislation introduced by Nebraska Senator Deb Fischer.
“Nebraska’s farm and ranch families appreciate the efforts of Sen. Deb Fischer and Rep. Don Bacon in getting this important infrastructure package across the finish line and to President Biden’s desk. This important piece of legislation provides needed investments in our nation’s roads/bridges, water projects, broadband infrastructure, and provides much needed regulatory relief to our livestock and insect haulers,” NEFB President Mark McHargue said.
“This isn’t the bill we would write, but it does take a resounding step forward in addressing our nation’s long-term infrastructure needs. At the same time, our support only extends to the true bipartisan infrastructure package, and we urge Congress to oppose efforts to pass the rushed and high tax version of the reconciliation package.”
CDL Regulatory Changes on the Way
This month’s Nebraska Farm Bureau News featured a story which detailed some of the licensing changes coming next year for those drivers wishing to obtain a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). This story has led to many questions, the most common coming from those worried that these changes will force farmers and ranchers, those who have been exempt from having to have a CDL for around 10 years, to go out and get a CDL. This is not the case. These regulatory changes only affect commercial drivers. Farmers and ranchers will continue to maintain their CDL exemption and NEFB will continue to ensure that exemption remains law.