House Ag Committee Approves Cattle Contract Library Bill

The House Agriculture Committee recently passed the Farm Bureau-backed Cattle Contract Library Act of 2021 (H.R. 5609), which would create a library for cattle contracts within USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service. Though a similar library exists for the pork sector, cattlemen are currently unaware of contract terms being offered by packers.

The bill would require packers to report terms of alternative marketing agreements between packers and producers, equipping ranchers with additional market data needed to make informed marketing and business decisions. The USDA library would provide producers with key details on cattle contracts, including the type and duration.

“In meetings with ranchers and feeders across the state, there is agreement that we need cattle market transparency, including reporting details of all cattle marketing arrangements,” said South Dakota Farm Bureau President and American Farm Bureau Federation Vice President Scott VanderWal. “The Cattle Contract Library is common sense and I hope we can get it quickly moved out of committee and passed in the House.”

The bill would require USDA to issue weekly or monthly reports that include:

  • The total number of fed cattle committed under contracts for delivery to packers within the six-month and 12-month periods following the date of the report. They would be available by region and contract type.
  • The number of contracts with an open commitment along with any limitations on number of cattle to be delivered under such contracts.
  • The total maximum number of fed cattle to be delivered within the six-month and 12-month periods by both region and contract type.

Committee passage of the legislation comes after cattle market-related hearings in both the House and Senate. At a House Agriculture Committee hearing earlier this month, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) updated the committee members on the Senate’s work on the issue and made a pitch for his mandatory minimum negotiated trade legislation.

Also at the hearing, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack shared USDA’s plans to expand meat processing capacity and Committee Chairman David Scott (D-Ga.) indicated he expects to extend the current Livestock Mandatory Reporting Act for another full year, a Farm Bureau priority.

The Cattle Contract Library Act of 2021 was introduced by Reps. Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) and Henry Cuellar (D-Texas).

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