Bill to Allow Livestock Auction Investment in Packing Facilities

by Colter Brown

Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.) and Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif.), introduced the Amplifying Processing of Livestock in the United States (A-PLUS) Act. If enacted, the bill would remove a regulatory barrier and allow livestock auction market owners to own or invest in small and regional meatpacking entities. 

The Administration, Congress and the livestock industry agree there is a need for increased packer competition and additional shackle space. Currently, livestock auctions are not able to own, invest or participate in the operation of a packing plant or meat marketing business due to dated Packers and Stockyards Act regulation (9 CFR 201.67). This legislation is essential in removing this unnecessary barrier to cattle industry investment in the packing sector.

“We greatly appreciate Congresswoman Hartzler and Congressman Panetta introducing the A-PLUS Act to reduce a regulatory barrier that currently prohibits livestock auction owners like myself from investing in much needed packing capacity expansion,” Livestock Marketing Association President Larry Schnell said. “This is a great bill that will spur additional capacity and especially additional packers to increase competition and improve profitability for producers.” 

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) also supports the A-PLUS Act, calling it another tool in the toolbox to boost processing capacity and alleviate key challenges in cattle marketing.

“The need for new packing facilities has become a critical issue for the cattle industry. Huge amounts of capital are required to get new facilities up and running. Understanding the need for these new facilities, producers themselves have invested in these efforts but outdated regulations still prevent livestock markets from having ownership in packing facilities. The A-PLUS Act paves the way for the marketing segment of the cattle industry to be included as investors in these facilities, helping reduce dependence on major packers and improving the competitiveness of the live cattle market,” said Clint Berry, chairman of NCBA’s Livestock Marketing Council.

The A-PLUS Act amends the Packers and Stockyards Act to allow livestock markets to own, invest in, or manage small to medium-sized processing facilities with a slaughter capacity of less than 2,000 head per day or 700,000 head per year.

“The meatpacking sector continues to be the bottleneck in the cattle and beef supply chain,” said NCBA Senior Director of Government Affairs Tanner Beymer. “Opening more small and medium-sized processing facilities increases opportunities for producers to market their cattle and helps balance leverage in pricing negotiations.”



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