WASHINGTON – On June 8, Representative Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.) introduced the Optimizing the Cattle Market Act of 2021, which is intended to help the cattle market have greater price discovery and transparency. 

Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) introduced a similar bill to the Senate earlier this year named The Cattle Market Transparency Act of 2021. 

“America’s producers continue to face challenges in the cattle market, particularly in terms of external market disruptions and the fading COVID-19 pandemic,” Hartzler said. “This legislation aims to usher in transparency improvements and restores accountability in the industry to lift up these struggling sectors and embark on a new chapter of progress for our cattlemen and women.” 

The legislation would require Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to establish regionally sufficient levels of negotiated cash and grid trade within two years of enactment and to consider stakeholder input through a public comment period. 

Another provision from the act would mandate the US Department of Agriculture to create a cattle formula contracts library and increase the reporting window from seven to 14 days for cattle producers. 

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) released a statement saying it supports many of the elements of the legislation but currently does not support mandatory minimums at this time.  

"The growing momentum we're seeing in the House and Senate behind addressing these critical concerns in the cattle markets is reflective of the urgency producers are feeling across the country,” said Ethan Lane, vice president of government affairs at the NCBA. "NCBA, alongside our affiliates and other industry associations, shares Representative Hartzler's objectives and welcomes the discussion this bill will bring. While a government mandate on regional minimums for negotiated trade continues to be a hotly debated topic among producers, we are encouraged to see a proposal that builds on past efforts and moves us closer toward a realistic finish line." 

Hartzler received bipartisan support for her legislation from Representative Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.).

“After their valiant efforts to keep food on the tables of American families, it’s critical that we do everything possible to ensure ranchers have the market transparency necessary to make informed business decisions that will help them stay in business and continue to generate economic activity throughout rural Missouri,” he said.

Zippy Duvall, president of American Farm Bureau Federation, said in a statement he appreciated the work of Hartzler and Cleaver and looked forward to working with Congress on the bill.