R-CALF USA: cattle contract library a secondary focus

Cattle group R-CALF USA is calling for action outside of a cattle contract library to bring fairness to the cattle industry.

R-CALF Director and northwest Iowa cattle producer Eric Nelson tells Brownfield a lack of packer competition is the biggest challenge facing the cattle market.

“To say that just having knowledge of what the contracts are, if you’re a smaller producer, doesn’t mean that you’re going to have the traction and the ability to approach a packer and demand that you’re going to get the same terms that some of these other outfits are getting,” Nelson said.

R-CALF CEO Bill Bullard tells Brownfield, instead, two measures need to be taken; one is the 50/14 legislation sponsored by Senators Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Montana’s Jon Tester.

“That forces the meatpackers to compete in the price discovery market by purchasing, at least, half [of] their cattle from that market and then slaughtering them within 14 days so they’re not able to also use those for captive supply cattle,” Bullard said.

He said the mandatory Country of Origin legislation sponsored by South Dakota Senator John Thune and Tester is also needed.

Bullard said a contract library could be helpful after a competitive market is established.

“It could, for example, allow an independent producer to determine when in the future the meatpackers are full of captive supplies and the producer certainly wouldn’t want to buy cattle and schedule them for sale during a period when the packers are expected to be overfull,” he said.

The proposed Cattle Contract Library Act of 2021, sponsored by Representative Dusty Johnson, passed out of committee by voice vote.  The bill has bipartisan support and can now be considered by the full US House. 

Brownfield’s Meghan Grebner contributed to this article.

Bill Bullard Interview

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