Cattle Markets Bills Likely Must Wait Until New Congress

Controversial Senate cattle market reform bills may be ‘cooked’ for this year, as the lame-duck Congress takes its last breaths this week and next.

The way Senate author of the Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act Chuck Grassley sees last-minute chances for his bill; “(I) think it’d be tough…that’s about all I can say.”

The Grassley bill with Nebraska’s Deb Fisher and Montana Democrat Jon Tester sets up a regional system of negotiated pricing to help independent producers compete with the major packers.

But the American Farm Bureau has its doubts, the National Cattlemen oppose it, and a separate Special Investigator Act and Senate Ag top Republican John Boozman voted ‘no’ in committee.

Boozman; “The cattle industry has made tremendous strides in meeting consumer demand since the 1990s…investments in genetics and breeding decisions and specialized marketing have brought real returns to ranch families that have chosen to take those steps. These investments have kept families ranching, while producing high-quality beef demanded by consumers.”

Grassley said in October, “time is our biggest enemy” in passing cattle market reform. Now, he’s looking to next year.

“But, we’ve got to keep talking about it, for sure, we can’t let up, talk about, if it doesn’t get done this year, what we’re going to do next year, and we have to have a farm bill next year, and that’s another opportunity.”

Though Republicans will control the House next year, possibly complicating farm bill politics and raising further resistance to government regulation in cattle and other industries.

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