Daines Introduces Bipartisan Bill To Bring Integrity, Transparency to MT Cattle Markets

U.S. SENATE – U.S. Senator Steve Daines helped introduce a bipartisan bill to return fairness and transparency to the cattle markets that are currently dominated by four major meat packers.

“It’s high time we put an end to the price gouging and manipulation plaguing Montana cattle markets. Restoring competition and transparency to our cattle markets will make certain that Montana ranchers are competing on a level playing field and help ensure Montana families are paying fair prices at the grocery store. I will always support the Montana farmers and ranchers who feed our great state, nation, and the rest of the world,” Daines said. 

 The “Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act” will: 

  • Require the Secretary of Agriculture to establish 5-7 regions encompassing the entire continental U.S. and then establish minimum levels of fed cattle purchases made through approved pricing mechanisms. Approved pricing mechanisms are fed cattle purchases made through negotiated cash, negotiated grid, at a stockyard, and through trading systems that multiple buyers and sellers regularly can make and accept bids. These pricing mechanisms will ensure robust price discovery and are transparent.
  • Establish a maximum penalty for covered packers of $90,000 for mandatory minimum violations. Covered packers are defined as those packers that during the immediately preceding five years have slaughtered five percent or more of the number of fed cattle nationally.
  • Create a publicly available library of marketing contracts, mandating box beef reporting to ensure transparency, expediting the reporting of cattle carcass weights, and requiring a packer to report the number of cattle scheduled to be delivered for slaughter each day for the next 14 days. The contract library would be permanently authorized and specify key details about the contents that must be included in the library like the duration of the contract and provisions in the contract that may impact price such as schedules, premiums and discounts, and transportation arrangements.

 See the full bill text HERE.

Daines also introduced the “Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act” to return fairness to the cattle marketplace in the 117th Congress, along with two bipartisan bills to increase transparency in the cattle market and cut red tape for Montana’s ag and livestock haulers, the “HAULS Act” and the “Mandatory Negotiated Cash Trade Bill.”  

On July 22, 2020, Daines issued a statement on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) release of a report and update on the ongoing investigation into allegations of price-fixing and market manipulation within the cattle market and the meatpacking industry. 

In July 2020, Daines brought USDA Under Secretary Northey to Montana to hear directly from Montana farmers and ranchers in a roundtable discussion.

On July 15, 2020, Daines sent a letter urging the USDA and the DOJ to actively coordinate and expand the scope of their efforts in the ongoing investigations into allegations of market manipulation and anti-competitive behavior by meat packers in the cattle industry. 

Daines wrote an op-ed on his work to bring fairness back to the cattle markets and support Montana ranchers, read it HERE.

On May 12, 2020, Daines joined a letter in support of efforts by attorneys general across the country calling on the DOJ to move quickly in its investigation of allegations of price-fixing and market manipulation within the cattle market and the beef meatpacking industry. 

In April of that year, USDA announced it was expanding its investigation into the divergence between box and live beef prices. Daines spoke directly with Secretary Perdue about this issue and the need for USDA and DOJ to investigate.

On March 19th, 2020, sent a letter calling on the DOJ to investigate the ongoing allegations of price-fixing and market manipulation within the cattle market and the beef meatpacking industry.

In September 2019, Daines sent a letter to the USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue urging a swift, thorough and transparent investigation into the impact of the fire that occurred at a Tyson Food beef processing plant in Holcomb, Kansas.

Contact: Matt LloydRachel DumkeBlake Kernen