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House advances cattle marketing reform bill

By large, bipartisan majorities, the House passed bills on Wednesday to introduce more transparency in cattle marketing and to keep in force a law that requires meatpackers to report purchase prices of livestock. The bills now go to the Senate for action.

Representatives passed, by 411-14, HR 5609, which would require the USDA to issue routine reports on the terms of contracts between cattle producers and meatpackers and on the number of head that would be delivered for slaughter in the coming six and 12 months.

The information would help producers know if they are being offered a competitive price for their stock and help them decide when to send their animals to market.

The so-called cattle contract bill was the only cattle marketing reform to gain broad support this year.

On a 414-9 roll call, the House passed HR 5290, which extends the life of the mandatory livestock price reporting law through Sept. 30, 2022.

Congress has repeatedly extended but not reauthorized the price reporting law since it expired in 2020. Some lawmakers want to include far-reaching market reforms in a bill reauthorizing the reporting law.

“We’re going to deal with that,” said House Agriculture chairman David Scott in urging passage of the reporting bill. “We are dealing with it over in the Senate Agriculture Committee and in our House committee. However, we should not let negotiations of those reforms that we’re working with stand in the way of extending this vital program for one year.”

Produced with FERN, non-profit reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.
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