USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack is non-committal on supporting a renewed push in Congress for livestock marketing reforms. Vilsack was careful in recent comments to farm reporters not to overstep the general support he voiced last year for the Grassley-Fisher bill to boost price discovery and beef industry competition.
“We are generally supportive of greater transparency in the market. And as we work on firming up the Packers and Stockyards Act, we have value transparency. We think there is an opportunity for farmers to be assured that they’re getting a fair and decent price with more transparency.”
Pressed on the question of a renewed push for legislation in the new Congress, Vilsack pushed back and voiced a ‘wait and see’ stance on a reintroduced bill.
“We’re clearly going to continue working on Packers and Stockyards, and, obviously, a particular piece of legislation, until I see what it actually says, I’m not going to be in a position to say it’s a good idea or bad idea. But generally, I would say we would be supportive of Congress taking a look at ways in which there could be greater transparency in the market.”
Last year’s Grassley-Fisher bill won a bipartisan committee vote, but key industry groups strongly opposed its setting mandatory minimum levels of negotiated versus contract trades. The full Senate never took up the bill.