Members of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association voted Wednesday to specifically state their opposition to cash trade mandates, adding clarity to an explicit part of a bill being pushed by a bipartisan group of senators on Capitol Hill.
The organization’s live cattle marketing committee approved an amendment to its policy book that says it wants the group’s lobbying efforts to back policies that enhance fed cattle price discovery and market transparency, but its members oppose “any mandate on cash trade volumes for cattle or any other legislative or regulatory policies that would limit the methods producers utilize to market cattle.”
The change is not official until ratified by the group’s board of directors, which meets Thursday afternoon to conclude the organization’s annual convention in Houston.
If ratified, the change would make NCBA the second group in the last three weeks to come out against cash trade mandates; the American Farm Bureau Federation announced a similar stance on Jan. 21.
Sens. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, are backing a bill that would create mandatory regional minimum cash trade requirements for the beef cattle sector, among a handful of other reforms.
An amendment to add the NCBA’s language passed the committee 146-41; several states with senators in support of the Senate legislation – Iowa, Nebraska, and Mississippi, to name a few – voted against the language.
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The move came as meatpacker JBS announced Wednesday it had agreed to a $52.5 million settlement to address civil litigation brought by a class of “direct purchasers” represented by grocery stores.
NCBA had previously been working to use a voluntary framework to achieve price discovery absent government intervention. While that effort did in fact boost price discovery efforts, it failed to reach the thresholds set by the organization. That sent NCBA’s Washington team back to its membership for further direction on exactly how it should approach the issue and its competing legislative proposals gaining momentum on Capitol Hill.
In addition to the Fischer-Grassley legislation, a bill to create a beef cattle contract library passed the House in December. The contract library language is also included in the Senate bill.
Interested parties face a looming deadline to advance a solution; mandatory livestock price reporting expires Feb. 18 as part of the government funding extension passed in December.
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