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||Last Updated: Nov 12th, 2006 - 20:38:00
(Billings, Mont.) - R-CALF USA was pleased with the progress to keep cattle producers competitive and ensure transparency in the marketplace as the U.S. Senate passed a Livestock Mandatory Price Reporting bill that is identical to the one approved last year by the U.S. House of Representatives, which extends mandatory price reporting to 2010.
In December 2005, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a 52-page report that identified key areas in need of improvement in the existing law to make livestock markets both more transparent and accurate so that independent cattle producers would be able to compete with meat packers on a level playing field.
Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, commissioned the GAO study, and both said they would continue to push for additional improvements in the next Congress.
The Livestock Mandatory Price Reporting Act (MPR) requires packers, processors, and importers to provide critical price, contracting, supply and demand information to USDA, which uses the information to create price reports for livestock producers. Since the legislation authorizing the Livestock Mandatory Price Reporting program expired last September, the program has been operating on a voluntary basis.
"R-CALF is appreciative of the Iowa congressional delegation's efforts in this matter," said R-CALF USA Region II Director Randy Stevenson, who also chairs R-CALF USA's Marketing Committee. "Getting the mandatory price reporting law back on the books is a better scenario than relying on packers to voluntarily furnish this essential information. Our eventual goal is to get complete and transparent reporting that's equivalent to what is required on Wall Street.
"R-CALF looks forward to working with Senators Harkin, Grassley and Chambliss to make certain the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) begins to implement the GAO recommendations, and in the meantime, to determine whether there are administrative steps the agency can take to improve these price reports," Stevenson said.
"We spent a great deal of time in meetings and discussions trying to reach a consensus to move a Senate MPR bill that addressed the GAO recommendations," said R-CALF USA Director of Government Relations Jess Peterson. "However, the American Meat Institute (AMI), along with other agriculture industry groups, fought hard against legislatively addressing these changes."
Peterson also pointed out that the recent success of the Aberdeen price-manipulation case and the ruling that stipulates packers must pay millions back to the producer-plaintiffs had an impact. Because of this ruling, AMI pushed to create an exemption for packers in court cases.
"AMI had good reasons for doing this - increased transparency and accountability for packers would be the result of a strengthened Senate bill," Peterson commented. "AMI, along with other industry groups, pushed back on the strengthened Senate version, but as time wound down, Mandatory Price Reporting needed to be renewed. Senators Harkin and Grassley were able to secure a commitment from Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Saxby Chambliss that this issue would be brought up in the upcoming 110th Session of Congress, notably in the Farm Bill discussions and a Senate Agriculture Committee hearing.
"Although this is not the exact outcome we wanted, MPR was not weakened, and there is an opportunity to build on this bill," Peterson continued. "It will be extremely important for cattle producers to remain engaged in this issue as R-CALF USA will push hard to implement an improved MPR during the 110th Session of Congress. Furthermore, I can't thank Senators Harkin and Grassley enough for their leadership on this issue, and we also appreciate the support of Chairman Chambliss in this matter."
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R-CALF USA (Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America) is a national, non-profit organization and is dedicated to ensuring the continued profitability and viability of the U.S. cattle industry. R-CALF USA represents thousands of U.S. cattle producers on both domestic and international trade and marketing issues. Members are located across 47 states and are primarily cow/calf operators, cattle backgrounders, and/or feedlot owners. R-CALF USA has more than 60 affiliate organizations and various main-street businesses are associate members. For more information, visit www.r-calfusa.com or, call 406-252-2516.
© 2004-2005 by foodconsumer.org unless otherwise specified
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