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Heinrich, Luján Reintroduce Cattle Market Reform Bill

Bill Passed the Senate Agriculture Committee Last Congress

WASHINGTON — U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) are original cosponsors of the bipartisan Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act of 2023. 
The legislation would restore transparency and accountability in the cattle market by establishing regional cash minimums and equipping producers with more market information, including permanently authorizing a cattle contract library.
“Consolidation in the beef supply chain has led to record profits for the big four meatpackers, while New Mexico families struggle to put food on the table," said Heinrich. "This legislation is an important step towards leveling the playing field against big corporations and letting the market work better for producers and consumers alike.“
“Growing up on a small farm in Nambé, I know how hard New Mexico farmers, ranchers, and producers work to make ends meet and feed our communities. I’m proud to co-sponsor this bipartisan legislation, which I championed last Congress, to restore accountability and transparency in the cattle market,” said Luján, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee. “This will help give the power back to our local farmers, ranchers, and producers instead of the largest corporations in America.”    
The Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act, led by Senators Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Sherrod Brown (R-Ohio), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), John Kennedy (R-La.), and Pete Ricketts (R-Neb.). Eleven of the cosponsors are members of the Senate Agriculture Committee.
The Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act of 2023 will:
  1. Require the Secretary of Agriculture to establish 5-7 regions encompassing the entire continental U.S. and then establish minimum levels of fed cattle purchases made through approved pricing mechanisms. Approved pricing mechanisms are fed cattle purchases made through negotiated cash, negotiated grid, at a stockyard, and through trading systems that multiple buyers and sellers regularly can make and accept bids. These pricing mechanisms will ensure robust price discovery and are transparent.
  2. Establish a maximum penalty for covered packers of $90,000 for mandatory minimum violations. Covered packers are defined as those packers that during the immediately preceding five years have slaughtered five percent or more of the number of fed cattle nationally.
  3. Create a publicly available library of marketing contracts, mandating box beef reporting to ensure transparency, expediting the reporting of cattle carcass weights, and requiring a packer to report the number of cattle scheduled to be delivered for slaughter each day for the next 14 days. The contract library would be permanently authorized and specify key details about the contents that must be included in the library like the duration of the contract and provisions in the contract that may impact price such as schedules, premiums and discounts, and transportation arrangements.
Click here for a one-pager on the regional mandatory minimum provision.
Click here for a section-by-section summary of the bill.
Full text of the legislation is available here.