This week Senators Tester and Grassley introduced legislation to deter big meat packers from manipulating the market. The ‘50-14’ Spot bill would amend the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946. It would require 50% cash or spot trading with delivery of cattle within 14 days. Currently, foreign owned packers are contracting cattle months out with secret formulas based on a cash price at delivery to avoid the mandatory price reporting requirements. This violates the intent of the Packers and Stockyards Act.
Packers are not allowed to own cattle months before slaughter. “MFU appreciates Senator Tester and Senator Grassley for introducing this bipartisan legislation. MFU is also pleased that Senator Daines supports this bill demanding more transparency. “Right now packers give preferential treatment to corporate feeders over family-owned feedlots,” said Walter Schweitzer, President of Montana Farmers Union.
Currently, there is less than 10% cash trade which allows the packers to easily manipulate the price paid on 90% of the cattle. “The lack of transparency is not a new problem. Montana producers would like the USDA and the DOJ to enforce the laws on the books to impose 100% transparency. If they are not going to do their job, MFU appreciates Senator Tester and Grassley stepping up to try to hold the packers halfway accountable, thereby improving the situation.”