Monday, May 10, 2021

Grassley says his bill on price transparency in cattle market has good shot at passing

(Radio Iowa) - Republican Senator Chuck Grassley has introduced a bill with a bipartisan group of senators that would force meatpackers to buy at least half of their weekly beef supply on the open market. The vast majority of cattle sales today are private sales, and Grassley says he met with independent farmers this week who can't gauge the fair market price for their cattle.

"I met in Jones County, Iowa with 150 cattlemen that were very irate about the dominance of these four big packers having 80% of the slaughter and 80% of each daily slaughter is either pre-contracted or by the company-owned cattle," Grassley says, "so the independent producer can't get a market."

Grassley says lawmakers need to intervene, because the cattle market isn't working.

"We've got to pass this legislation so the independent producer can negotiate a price and know when he can deliver," Grassley says.

Grassley says he began talking about this issue in 2002, but abandoned the effort in 2007 when he could not muster the votes to get a bill passed in the U.S. Senate.

"And then a year ago, the cattle people came back to me from Iowa came back to me and said: 'Would you resurrect your bill?' I thought: 'Ye gods, we're going to go through the same thing again and not get any support?' You'd be surprised the number of people that signed up for my bill almost immediately," Grassley says. "We have good, bipartisan support now and I think it's got no problem getting out of the agriculture committee."

Grassley made his comments during taping of "Iowa Press" which aired Friday on Iowa PBS. According to the USDA, Iowa ranks fourth among the states in the number of cattle destined for slaughter at a meatpacker.

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