WASHINGTON – Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) along with their colleagues, Sens. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) today introduced legislation to foster efficient markets while increasing competition and transparency among meat packers who purchase livestock directly from independent producers. This bipartisan bill will require that a minimum of 50 percent of a meat packer’s weekly volume of beef slaughter be purchased on the open or spot market.
“The lack of transparency in cattle pricing isn’t a new problem. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has only highlighted the need for additional price transparency measures to ensure producers are getting a fair price for the hard work of raising cattle,” Grassley said. “Food doesn’t come from the grocery store, it comes from tens of thousands of farmers and independent producers who work day and night to ensure families across the country have an abundant supply of food. Independent producers deserve to be paid what their beef is worth.”
“Montana livestock producers have made it clear: there needs to be more transparency in the cattle market to ensure ranchers get a fair shake, especially as market consolidation continues to rise,” Tester said. “This bill is about putting Montana family ranchers first, instead of tying their bottom lines to the whims of multi-national corporations.”
“Our ranchers play an important role in our economy and our quality of life, and they deserve fair markets for the high-quality products they provide,” Hoeven said. “The reforms made by this legislation would improve price discovery in livestock markets, leading to better transparency and more competition. That’s a win for both livestock producers and consumers.”
“Well before the COVID-19 pandemic began, South Dakota livestock producers were burdened by depressed cattle prices that did not reflect the true value of their product,” Rounds said. “Our legislation takes an important step to stabilize the cattle market by enhancing price discovery. This will give South Dakota’s independent farm and ranch families the opportunity to receive a fair price for their quality product. This issue requires our continued attention focus and attention.”
“Corporate meat packers have ripped off cattle ranchers in Oregon and nationwide for far too long by unfairly driving down prices for their livestock,” Wyden said. “This legislation restores market efficiency by increasing competition and transparency. That modernized cattle market is especially important during the economic fallout of this public health crisis so cattle ranchers can continue growing their small businesses and to ensure families struggling to put food on the table are paying fair meat prices at the grocery store.”
“Montana agriculture is part of our way of life. This bill will help ensure Montana ranchers can compete on a level playing field in the marketplace by improving transparency and price discovery in cattle markets,” Daines said.
“The Iowa Cattlemen’s Association is pleased to support the reintroduction of the legislation that sparked discussion on cattle market reform in 2020: 50/14. Our producer members have continually expressed that all participants in the fed cattle market share responsibility in providing price discovery and transparency. This legislation better balances the distribution of responsibility across U.S. fed cattle inventories. To make informed decisions, buyers and sellers must have access to more reportable market data. With two bills on the table and a dialogue set to recommence, now is the time to work together to negotiate the best possible solution for the cattle industry,” Matt Deppe, CEO of Iowa Cattlemen’s Association said. 

Grassley first introduced this bill in 2002 with former Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) and has been a strong advocate for the cattle industry over his 40 years in the United States Senate. After hearing from constituents expressing concern that there is currently a discrepancy between high grocery store shelf prices and simultaneous decreased cattle prices, Grassley joined his colleagues to reintroduce this legislation. This bill will make systemic changes to the cattle industry to ensure longevity of independent producers, which will protect our country’s beef supply.