A bipartisan group of representatives have thrown their support behind the Price Reform in Cattle Economics (PRICE) Act, to deliver industry reforms for livestock owners and processors. Led by Representative Dusty Johnson (R-SD), the bill attempts to provide greater price reporting and transparency, comprehensive risk management solutions, bolsters small processor and producer-owned cooperative processing opportunities, and updates the Packer and Stockyards Act to create a cattle contract library.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released the “Box Beef & Fed Cattle Price Spread Investigation Report, which identified a number of systemic issues in the cattle market. Johnson introduced the PRICE Act in response to the findings of this report. The cattle market faced extreme volatility following the Tyson Holcomb plant fire in 2019 and again during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Cattle country is hurting and has not fully recovered,” said Johnson. “USDA laid out several areas where Congress can implement real solutions to improve the market – the PRICE Act is the answer to many of the issues our ranchers have faced for years. Our producers want a fair market and fair prices and that’s what this bill delivers. Congress needs to deliver for cattle country.”
United States Cattlemen’s Association (USCA) Vice President Justin Tupper commented that, “The provisions laid out in the PRICE Act provide a solid foundation with which to build out a Livestock Title in the next farm bill. Both the 2018 and 2014 Farm Bills failed to include a specific title for livestock, instead dumping those programs into the ‘miscellaneous’ bin. The sections included within the PRICE Act offer a solid base with which to begin constructing a clear, concise, and dedicated section within the framework of the largest agriculture-related legislation to bolster the livestock sector.”
Ethan Lane, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s Vice President of Government Affairs said, “The Tyson fire in Holcomb, KS and the supply chain disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have brought the issues of price transparency in the cattle markets and beef processing capacity to a boiling point within our industry. This legislation is a significant step in the right direction as we continue to explore ways to support producers who have been impacted by two major black swan events, in an already volatile cattle market. We are grateful to Rep. Johnson and all the cosponsors for their bipartisan leadership in this space, and will continue working alongside them to see these reforms enacted.”
The Price Act is cosponsored by Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Mike Conaway (R-TX), Representatives Greg Gianforte (R-MT), Darren Soto (D-FL), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Henry Cuellar (D-TX), Frank Lucas (R-OK), David Rouzer (R-NC), Rick Crawford (R-AR), Jason Smith (R-MO), Tom Emmer (R-MN), and Jim Hagedorn (R-MN). It is also supported by the American Farm Bureau Federation, South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association, and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.
What the bill does:
- Maintains a robust food safety inspection system, for both state and federally inspected facilities while putting small processors on a level playing field through overtime inspections and opening up new direct to consumer options for state inspected meat.
- Creates opportunity for producer-owned processing through a direct and guaranteed loan program to provide credit to new and expanded processing facilities, such as producer-owned cooperatives and tailors the program to allow producers to buy cooperative stock.
- Addresses barriers to entry in the small processor space authorizing a grant program to ease the cost of Federal, State, or local food safety regulation, feasibility studies, and training.
- Authorizes USDA-NIFA to publish feasibility studies into opportunities for new and expanded livestock and meat processing facilities.
- Creates transparency in the fed-cattle market through a Beef Cattle Contract Library overseen by Packers and Stockyards.
- Directs USDA to provide technical assistance to small processes for best practices during a pandemic.
- Directs USDA to provide Congress cost-benefit and feasibility of various proposals to enhance price discovery through mandatory price reporting.
- Requires comprehensive looks at foreign investment in U.S. agriculture through CFIUS review.
- Allows access to CRP and prevent plant cover crop forage in times of supply chain disruption.