The North American Meat Institute (Meat Institute) said the Fiscal Year 2022 Omnibus Appropriations Bill creates a Cattle Contract Library pilot program requiring beef packers to report private business information to the government that will then be published, but blocks public comment on the Biden Administration’s proposed rules for the program.
“Congress and the Administration say they value transparency in the beef and cattle market yet they burry this rider without debate in a giant spending bill and direct USDA to create the pilot program without any feedback from beef companies or cattle producers,” said Meat Institute President and CEO Julie Anna Potts. “There will be no opportunity for companies to provide valuable perspective on what information should be included or how it should be reported.”
Under the pilot, Meat Institute members who purchase beef cattle with an Alternative Marketing Arrangement will be legally obligated to report proprietary and sensitive data to the government for publication.
The law is vague and provides no guardrails for the type or amount of data and leaves program development up to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agriculture Marketing Service. (AMS)
Finally, the law contains a provision that allows AMS to promulgate the rules without a comment period as normally required by law.
“The Congress directs the Administration to create another onerous USDA program with the sole purpose of collecting private business information and making it public without any input from the regulated industry,” said Potts. “This is not transparent or responsible.”
Background on Transparency in Beef and Cattle Markets
There is robust price discovery in the cattle and beef markets. Congress established and USDA administers the Livestock Mandatory Reporting Act (LMR) program to facilitate open, transparent price discovery and provide all market participants, both large and small, with comparable levels of market information for slaughter cattle and beef, as well as other species.
Under LMR, packers must report to AMS daily the prices they pay to procure cattle, and other information, including slaughter data for cattle harvested during a specified time period and with net prices, actual weights, dressing percentages, percent of beef grading Choice, and price ranges, and then AMS publishes the anonymized data.
AMS publishes 24 daily and 20 weekly cattle reports each week. Weekly reports start Monday afternoon and end the next Monday morning. These reports cover time periods, regions, and activities and the data include actual cattle prices.
Further, packers report all original sale beef transactions in both volume and price through the Daily Boxed Beef Report. This data is reported twice daily, at 11:00 a.m. and at 3:00 p.m. Central Time. The morning report covers market activity since 1:30 p.m. of the prior business day until 9:30 a.m. of the business day. The afternoon report is cumulative, including all market activity in the morning plus all additional transactions between 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., and is on the USDA DataMart website. The boxed beef report covers both individual beef item sales and beef cutout values and current volumes, both of which are derived from the individual beef item sales data.
About North American Meat Institute
The Meat Institute is the United States’ oldest and largest trade association representing packers and processors of beef, pork, lamb, veal, turkey, and processed meat products. NAMI members include over 350 meat packing and processing companies, the majority of which have fewer than 100 employees, and account for over 95 percent of the United States’ output of meat and 70 percent of turkey production.