USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and the White House are not on board with radical livestock marketing reforms proposed by Midwest US lawmakers, based on recent Congressional testimony.
Iowa Rep. Randy Feenstra reminded Vilsack of a White House statement last month that the administration will work with Congress to make cattle markets more transparent and fair.
“We heard from Senator Grassley today, about the need to act on legislation now, it is so crucial. This is an area that has bipartisan support. Can I get a commitment from you to help on legislation, like what Senator Grassley and Fisher have proposed.”
But Secretary Vilsack’s answer on an approach that forces a specific share of negotiated versus contract sales was revealing.
“I…more than happy to provide help and assistance. Just one caution, that we look for the proper balance, that we don’t, as we try to provide greater transparency, we don’t necessarily sacrifice the benefits of the existing system, in terms of efficiency.”
A similar argument to the longstanding objection by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association to a “one-size-fits-all” approach.
Frustrated, Feenstra responded that there’s a “significant monopoly” with four major packers now controlling most of the US cattle market, and many independent producers being forced out of business.