Reps. Axne & Feenstra, Colleagues Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Support Independent Cattle Producers, Improve Market Transparency

November 17, 2021
Press Release

Today, Iowa Representatives Cindy Axne (IA-03) and Randy Feenstra (IA-04) – both members of the House Agriculture Committee – led the introduction of bipartisan legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives that will return fairness to the cattle marketplace dominated by four major meat packers.

For years, Iowa’s independent cattle producers have been bearing the burden of price discovery and a lack of transparency when trying to market their cattle and make ends meet,” said Rep. Axne. “All they want is fairness and equal footing and that’s exactly what this legislation would do. The Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act would provide meaningful and long overdue reform to the cattle industry to ensure producers in Iowa and across this country can continue their operations for generations to come. I’m proud to have worked with Senator Grassley and my bipartisan colleagues on this issue throughout my time in Congress and will work to advance it across the finish line.”

“Although the cost of beef continues to rise, independent cattle producers have seen prices decrease or remain stagnant for too long. It is clear the current negotiating structure puts consumers and smaller cattle operations at a disadvantage, which is why I immediately began calling for hearings and voicing concerns on the Agriculture Committee. I am honored to lead this legislation alongside Congresswoman Axne, and I would like to thank my colleagues in the Senate, including Senator Grassley, for their persistence and hard work on this critical issue. I look forward to working together to get this bipartisan, bicameral compromise on the president’s desk,” said Rep. Feenstra.

The Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act will:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Prohibit the USDA from using confidentiality as a justification for not reporting and make clear that USDA must report all Livestock Mandatory Reporting information, and they must do so in a manner that ensures confidentiality.
  4. 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.

The Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act was introduced in the House today with Representatives Ashley Hinson (IA-01), Miller-Meeks (IA-02), Representatives Vicky Hartzler (MO-04), and Jeff Fortenberry (NE-01).

Identical legislation was introduced in the Senate today by Iowa Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst along with Sens. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), and is also supported by Sens. Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.).

The following groups have endorsed the bill: American Farm Bureau, U.S. Cattlemen’s Association, National Farmers Union, and National Grange.

A one-pager summary of the bill is available HERE. A section-by-section summary is available HERE.