MFU Partners with National Livestock Groups

MFU Partners with National Livestock Groups

Standing Up Transparency in the Cattle Market

On Monday, May 10, 2021, member leaders of American Farm Bureau Federation, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Farmers Union, R-CALF USA, and the United States Cattlemen’s Association met in Phoenix, Arizona. These groups convened at the request of Livestock Marketing Association to discuss challenges involved in the marketing of finished cattle with the ultimate goal of bringing about a more financially sustainable situation for cattle feeders and cow-calf producers.

MFU President Walter Schweitzer talks with local producers at a recent event in Havre.

“I feel honored to have been asked to represent National Farmers Union at this unprecedented meeting of livestock organizations,” said Walter Schweitzer, President of Montana Farmers Union. “Leaders in the Livestock industry from all over the United States got together for 2 days to discuss the challenges we are all facing in livestock marketing. We had and open and candid conversation on a variety of issues and agreed on a basic list of priorities and action items. As a group we felt strongly that packer concentration and the lack of price transparency are huge problems. We agreed packer oversight utilizing Packers and Stockyards Act to force packers to play by the rules and to require them to not only to report negotiated cash prices but also to report their base prices and formula contracts as well. It was established that it is important to have the USDA and the DOJ to conduct oversight of packer activity moving forward. This historic meeting has laid the foundation to build on needed livestock reforms and to empower a referee to ensure that everyone is playing by the rules that will lead to a fair and transparent cattle marketing system.”

The group talked openly and candidly about a wide range of important issues facing our industry today, including but not limited to:

  •  Packer concentration,
  •  Price transparency and discovery,
  •  Packer oversight,
  •  Packers and Stockyards Act enforcement,
  •  Level of captive supply, and
  •  Packer capacity.

The group also agreed to take to their respective organizations for consideration these action items:

  • Expedite the renewal of USDA’s Livestock Mandatory Reporting (LMR), including formula base prices subject to the same reporting requirements as negotiated cash and the creation of a contract library. 
  • Demand the Department of Justice (DOJ) issue a public investigation status report and as warranted, conduct joint DOJ and USDA oversight of packer activity moving forward.
  • Encourage investment in, and development of, new independent, local, and regional packers. 

This unprecedented meeting brought together diverse producer organizations to identify issues and discuss potential solutions. These issues and action item lists are not comprehensive, due to time constraints of this meeting. Attending organization representatives were pleased to have reached consensus on many issues and are committed to the ultimate goal of achieving a fair and transparent finished cattle marketing system.