No love lost at House Ag Committee cattle market hearing

It was an explosive start to the House Ag Committee hearing on price discrepancies in the cattle markets. Coy Young is a cow/calf producer from Missouri.  “The American cattle farmers and ranchers are tired,” Young said. “Tired of being taken advantage of and losing money year after year, while watching the Big Four post record profits every single quarter.”

He says packers continue to manipulate the system.  “AMAs (Alternative Marketing Agreements) have killed the cash market and competition within the beef industry,” Young said. “Making the markets that cow-calf producers have to compete in so depressed for the times that bankruptcy rates continue to be on the rise. We were at a 10-year-high in 2019.”

House Ag Committee ranking member GT Thompson pushed back against the hearing.  “This hearing reeks of political point-scoring on behalf of the administration in an effort to justify drastic, unvetted, or controversial legislative action,” Thompson said. “The hearing title alone suggests the decks were stacked long ago in favor of a predetermined outcome.”

Don Schiefelbein, Minnesota cattle producer and president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, says Congress needs to address the real threats to the industry. “Of greatest concern to NCBA is the current shortage of adequate beef packing capacity not seen in several decades,” Schiefelbein said. “NCBA has supported measures both in congress and with the Biden administration to increase packer capacity.”

He says they’re also waiting for movement on a proposed Cattle Contract Library to help improve price transparency.

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