WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 25, 2021) - The United States Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry recently conducted a hearing, "Examining Markets, Transparency, and Prices from Cattle Producer to Consumer," with the intent to examine challenges facing the beef cattle market, one of Missouri Cattlemen’s Association’s top policy priorities.
"There is a widening gap between those giant players and the small and medium-sized processors that many local farmers and ranchers rely on," said Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee. Justin Tupper, a South Dakota cow-calf producer and manager of the St Onge Livestock Auction, testified, arguing that packers have too much control over each aspect of the supply chain, leaving the producers to fend for themselves.
"The only way you can have true price discovery is to have a second bidder," Tupper said. "If we had more competition out there and they could not hold captive supply, then when we have high boxed beef prices, we would see the direct benefit of that.”
Mary Hendrickson, a sociology professor at the University of Missouri, said that recent events showed the true volatility of our food supply chain and that we must be better equipped.
"Everybody keeps saying these are black swan events, but they happened, and we weren't really prepared for them," Hendrickson said.
Producers and industry leaders know there is a long road ahead but are cautiously optimistic by the conversations surrounding the issue.
“We are encouraged to see this issue finally coming to the forefront as we are ready to push forward meaningful, long-term structural changes in the beef cattle markets. The goal is robust price discovery and market transparency that will afford all segments of this industry the opportunity for profitability, and many of this hearing’s testimonies called for the same,” MCA President-Elect Bruce Mershon said. “We appreciate the participation of committee members and the continued efforts of our own Sen. Josh Hawley.”
To view the hearing, click here.