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Cattleman says the shift in the cattle industry is long overdue

A Nebraska cattle producer says there’s been a fundamental shift in the cattle industry. Lee Reichmuth, a director with the US Cattlemen’s Association, tells Brownfield it’s long overdue.  “It’s truly kind of a complete change to the industry and obviously where we are today, producers and consumers, we’re both getting hurt,” he says. 

He says there have been aggressive steps taken to address producer concerns, including proposed legislation and USDA’s recent announcement to support enforcement of the Packers and Stockyards Act. That includes Nebraska Senator Deb Fischer’s proposed legislation, which also has companion legislation in the House, the proposed bill by Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, the USDA’s announcement that it is working to support enforcement of the Packers and Stockyards Act, and a bill that would amend the Packers and Stockyards Act to establish the Office of the Special Investigator for Competitive Markets.  

“All four are pieces of the puzzle that can help change this industry, or at least try to make it more competitive as we go further down the road if there are anti-competitive practices going on,” he says.  “Which some of us believe that there is.” Reichmuth says the bill introduced by Senators Jon Tester of Montana and Mike Rounds of South Dakota last week would ensure a level playing field for US cattle producers.  “If the bills of Fischer and Grassley get passed, the Packers and Stockyards Act then has the teeth to enforce those rules,” he says.  “And then try to keep anti-competitive practices out.  It gives them the authority to do what they need to do if they see anything.  It also gives us a watch-dog to see if everyone is in compliance and it becomes a free market.”

Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack says the Packers and Stockyards Act is a vital tool for protecting farmers and ranchers from excessive concentration and unfair practices in the poultry, hog, and cattle markets.

AUDIO: Lee Reichmuth, US Cattlemen’s Association

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