The Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service has finalized regulations for a new cattle contract library, a move welcomed by the industry and Capitol Hill.

Packers will be required to provide contract information and the number of “actual and estimated cattle purchased under active contracts within particular timeframes,” the rule says. To protect the confidentiality of participants, AMS will only record “contract terms without any personally identifiable information” rather than the entire contract.

“The contract clauses required to be submitted include contract method, contract start and end dates, base price source and adjustment, selling basis, premiums and discounts, specifications relating to cattle attributes, delivery and transportation terms and payments, financing, risk-sharing, profit-sharing or other financial arrangements, and volume provisions,” AMS says in the rule being published Wednesday in the Federal Register.

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association welcomed the regulations. "We are hopeful that this pilot program will strike an appropriate balance between offering cattle producers additional insight into the market while also protecting their proprietary business information," said NCBA lobbyist Tanner Beymer.

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Sen. John Hoeven, a North Dakota Republican who was a key figure in the effort to authorize the contract library, said he expects it to “serve as an important resource to America’s livestock producers, giving them more of the information they need to get the best price and terms for the sale of their cattle.”

Packers who slaughtered more than 5% of the nation’s cattle in the previous five years will be required to participate. Barring an unexpected delay, the library and its reporting requirements will take effect Jan. 6.

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