Note: The following letter was sent to both House and Senate Ag Committee leaders as well as key leaders at USDA.
Dear Chairwoman Stabenow and Ranking Member Boozman:
Re: Cattle Contracts Library Pilot Program Expiration
The Iowa Cattlemen’s Association (ICA) is a grassroots organization representing nearly 8,000 independent cattle producers and stakeholders affiliated with the beef cattle industry. Today, we write to express the importance of continuing the Cattle Contracts Library despite expiration of the pilot program. While imperfect, this resource can be improved with time and some modifications based on industry stakeholder feedback.
Cash Trade & Transparency
Over many years, we’ve witnessed the declining use of cash trade across the entire beef belt. In Iowa, however, price discovery remains strong because of the use of cash trade and transparency provided by required reporting of negotiated transactions. In Livestock Mandatory Reporting regions where it has become common practice for buyers and sellers to utilize alternative marketing arrangements to price fed cattle, this is not the case. Cash market prices are needed to drive formula and grid prices in those regions—without them, how do we know what’s really setting the market?
A Brief Timeline
Getting to this point—the point where producers can better inform themselves on purchases of contract cattle and the number of active contracts available—has been a long haul. The creation of this pilot program, in response to the requests of cattle producers in Iowa and across the country, was a significant investment made by Congress and USDA. While we understand this library was created as a pilot program, we ask that this not fall by the wayside.
The library has not reached its full potential as a resource for cattle producers. We believe there is more work to be done through the partnership between USDA and industry stakeholders. We respectfully ask that this be considered as Congress works through appropriations, and in the near future, reauthorization of the farm bill.
Thank you for your time and consideration. Questions related to ICA and this letter may be directed to Cora Fox, director of government relations, at (515) 296-2266 or at [email protected].
President, Iowa Cattlemen’s Association