Senator John Hoeven, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee and a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, today announced that he is cosponsoring bipartisan legislation, introduced by Senator Chuck Grassley, to increase transparency and competition among meat packers. The legislation requires that a minimum of 50 percent of a meat packer’s weekly volume of beef slaughter be purchased on the open or spot market.
Hoeven said a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) report released today, which details disparities between boxed beef and live cattle prices, demonstrates the need for cattle market reforms. USDA extended its oversight into this matter in April, after Hoeven raised the issue with Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Greg Ibach.
“Our ranchers are facing real challenges, from consolidation in the meatpacking industry to market disruptions due to COVID-19,” said Hoeven. “Today’s report from the USDA showcases the vulnerabilities of the cattle market and further underscores the need for more competition and transparency in the industry. That’s exactly what this bipartisan bill will support, and it is part of our efforts to help ensure that our ranchers receive a fair price for their product. I appreciate the department for providing its input to help achieve these goals, and I will continue working with my Senate colleagues to find solutions.”
In addition to cosponsoring the Grassley legislation, Hoeven has advanced the following efforts to support cattle ranchers and improve pricing and transparency in the beef market:
- Making the case for the Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate price manipulation in the cattle market. This includes joining Senator Deb Fischer in pressing Attorney General William Barr to investigate suspected price manipulation and anticompetitive behavior in the cattle industry.
- The DOJ began its inquiry into meatpacking companies earlier this year, and the senator continues urging the administration to exercise its authority to address potential violations of the Packers and Stockyards Act and broader antitrust laws
- Cosponsoring the bipartisan, bicameral Processing Revival and Intrastate Meat Exemption (PRIME) Act, legislation to expand ranchers’ ability to provide more locally-produced meat to consumers.