Over the past 18 months, the voices calling for changes in the packing industry have become louder and more numerous. Many livestock producer organizations say ranchers enjoy the profits or margins they should since there are only four major packing companies in the U.S. To that end, Nebraska Senator Deb Fischer has introduced legislation, cosponsored by Oregon’s Ron Wyden, addressing market transparency.
“Right now, we have a lot of inside deals,” noted President Elect of the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association Todd Nash. “We have large corporate feeders making deals with large packing facilities, and we have no idea what kind of deal they’ve brokered there. It’s led to a mistrust in the market.”
Nash said if producers can pull back the veil, so there’s a better idea of the business deals that are being made, that would go a long way to reestablish trust. He added ranchers would also like to see competitive bids on live cattle.
Rodger Huffman, OCA Treasure, said producers want a more cordial relationship with the packers, but it needs to be a two-way street.
“Our profitability on the cattle side certainly allows for not just the packers and the retailers, but for the consumers to have good solid beef, and we don’t give up shares to alternative beef stuff that’s trying to push its way in.”
In addition to the Fischer bill, two other pieces of legislation addressing cattle market transparency are before this Congress.
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