Sen. Marshall Opposes Federal Control Over Cattle Markets in Livestock Bill
Speaks on Amendment to Strike Market Mandate for Fed Cattle
(Washington, D.C., June 22, 2022) – U.S. Senators Roger Marshall, M.D. (KS) and Tommy Tuberville (AL) expressed their opposition to expanding the federal government’s control over U.S. cattle markets by offering an amendment to strike market quotas for fed cattle from the Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act of 2022. The amendment was offered during a hearing in the Senate Ag today.
When offering his amendment, Senator Marshall said, in part,
“Transparency is the nectar of free enterprise and capitalism without competition creates opportunities for exploitation…I understand the frustrations of the Senators who authored and support this bill but, a market mandate is the wrong approach…It could cost cattle producers anywhere from $23 million to $249 million each year and 90% of those costs appear to be borne by cattlemen in Kansas and the Southern Plains States…While this is an attempt to regulate the packer, the result is actually additional regulation of the cattle producer. This will give the packer all the leverage to decide who gets the good deal and who gets the bad deal.”
You may click HERE or on the image below to watch Senator Marshall’s full remarks.
Although Senator Marshall withdrew his amendment, he intends to re-offer it if the Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act reaches the Senate Floor for the full chamber’s consideration.
You may click HERE to read the text of Senator Marshall’s amendment.
Statements of Support for Senator Marshall’s Amendment:
“Kansas Farm Bureau strongly endorses the amendment from Sens. Marshall and Tuberville because it would ensure Congress stays out of telling ranchers how to do business in the cattle industry. As a top-three state in the number of cattle, cattle on feed and cattle slaughter, Kansas producers have worked to develop the quality driven market system we have currently. We welcome debates on improving cattle markets, and removing this mandate allow us to explore real solutions to improve markets for cattle producers.” – Rich Felts, President, Kansas Farm Bureau
“NCBA appreciates Senator Marshall for listening to the vast majority of cattle producers and the entirety of the economic community by opposing government mandates and duplicative additional bureaucracy in today’s Senate Ag markup. We look forward to continuing our efforts to find real, economically viable solutions to add transparency and leverage for cattle producers.” – Ethan Lane, Vice President of Government Affairs, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association
“The Committee’s actions today were disappointing. While there are some provisions in the bill that would enhance cattle price transparency, the cash mandate section will hurt, not help cattle producers. The government mandate will eliminate producer opportunities for value-added income, while giving the packer the sole ability to decide which producer must trade in the cash market and which producer gets to participate in more profitable marketing arrangements. KLA thanks Senator Marshall for opposing government intervention in cattle markets and looks forward to working with him to stop this attack on producer freedoms.” – Matt Teagarden, CEO, Kansas Livestock Association
Background on Senator Marshall’s Efforts to Improve the Meatpacking Industry
- During a recent hearing on cattle markets, Senator Marshall spoke about his concerns with consolidating in the cattle industry. You may click HERE or on the image below to watch Senator Marshall discuss these concerns.
- In January 2022, Senator Marshall introduced the Bona Fide Beef Branding Act to help ranchers distinguish their product in the meat case in grocery stores nationwide. This legislation would direct the U.S. Depart of Agriculture (USDA) to eliminate the “Product of the USA” meat label and instead create three new voluntary labels to address consumer confusion.
- In July 2021, Senators Marshall and Mike Rounds (SD), as well as Representatives Jason Smith (MO) and Dusty Johnson (SD), introduced the Feed America by Incentivizing Rural (FAIR) Meat Packing Act to ensure a level playing field for our nation’s cattlemen and to return to fair prices for both cattlemen and consumers. The FAIR Meat Packing Act creates two tax incentives to facilitate the formation of small- and mid-sized meat processing facilities allowing cattle producers to compete for better prices in the marketplace.
Senator Marshall’s Full Remarks on his Amendment as Prepared:
I call up Marshall Amendment #1 for myself and Senator Tuberville.
I want to first express my appreciation for the hard work the coauthors of this bill, Senators Grassley and Fisher, have put into this legislation. I know they understand the issues facing cattlemen across this country and are doing what they feel is best for Ag producers in their great states of Iowa and Nebraska.
I certainly agree that there is a problem. Simply stated, at times during the cattle cycle, there is not enough shackle space for the quantity of cattle in the supply chain, and the demand at the supermarket at home and abroad. That pain is amplified during so called black swan events like pandemics and or fire.
And I want to make it very clear, I am concerned with the level of concentration in the packing industry. Not to mention the amount of foreign ownership in the industry. This is harming cow-calf guys and small feeders. No matter the industry, if you have 3-4 companies controlling 80 or more percent of any link in the supply chain problems can arise.
I support most of this bill. Kansans support most of this bill. Transparency is the nectar of free enterprise and capitalism without competition creates opportunities for exploitation.
All that being said, I agree with AFB and KFB, and KLA that these mandates will actually harm feed lots and cow-calf producers in Kansas, by empowering and giving more control to the Big 4 packing plants.
Thus, along with Sen. Tuberville, I’m going to offer the following amendment, but withdraw it.
This amendment eliminates the market acquisition mandate for fed cattle.
I understand the frustrations of the Senators who authored and support this bill but, a market mandate is the wrong approach. Economists are already warning that this mandate will reduce cattle prices received by cattlemen. It could cost cattle producers anywhere from $23 million to $249 million each year and 90% of those costs appear to be borne by cattlemen in Kansas and the Southern Plains States.
While this is an attempt to regulate the packer, the result is actually additional regulation of the cattle producer. This will give the packer all the leverage to decide who gets the good deal and who gets the bad deal. The smallest of our feedlot producers and cow-calf operations will lose with this arrangement.
The way we address problems is not through additional regulations that manipulate the market. Rather we need to eliminate the red tape that ties the hands of industry. Let small producers ship meat in interstate commerce, pass my Bonafide Beef Branding Act to provide more accurate labeling, pass my FAIR Meatpacking Act to help small and medium sized packers compete with the big ones, reduce labor burdens, and allow packers to increase line speeds.
There are several other transparency provisions in this bill I can support but I simply can NOT support a marketing mandate that disproportionately impacts Kansas cattle producers. Again, this amendment is simple and would remove the marketing mandate.
Madam Chair, I do not intend to ask for a vote on my amendment today instead I will reserve it for floor consideration should this legislation come before the full Senate. I believe Senator Tuberville who is a cosponsor would like to speak in support of this amendment. I withdraw my amendment and would ask the chair recognize Senator Tuberville to speak on this as a co-sponsor.