The chief sponsor of cattle market reform legislation, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, spoke with farm reporters about his expectations for upcoming hearings on his bill later this month. Grassley says he knows what the top four beef packing company executives think of his Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act
“What they think about it is, everything’s alright, nothing needs to be changed. The cozy relationships that they have with the big feedlots of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Colorado, filling up about 85 percent of the chain kill every day is the cozy relationship for them, and they don’t want to mess around with the family farmers of Iowa.”
On the flip side, Grassley senses support from the two Ag chairs. “It seems that Chairman Scott understands the problem very well because I’ve talked to him about it. I don’t mean that that gives me confidence that he’s willing to move a bill, but I spent an hour with him.”
As for Senate Ag Chair Debbie Stabenow, who set an April 26th hearing date, Grassley says she’s anxious to move a bill; “She is motivated to do that, not only because she understands the rightness of our bill, and now, I would say, she’s sympathetic to the problems we’re trying to solve. But I don’t think she’d be moving as aggressively if she didn’t think there was a chance to get it up.”
But others, including National Cattlemen and the American Farm Bureau, oppose the bill’s regional negotiated pricing, and the top House Ag Republican GT Thompson may, as well. Grassley; “And people that seem to know the ranking Republican on the committee does not like our legislation at all.”
Raising doubts about support by the Senate’s top Ag Republican, John Boozman. But Grassley says he remains confident the votes are there to get the bill out of the Senate committee as he says independent cattle producers go broke, and the ‘big four packers’ record the highest profits ever.