Cattle industry issues raised at House Ag Member Day hearing
Reps. Randy Feenstra, R-Iowa, and Dusty Johnson, R-S.D., said Tuesday the House Agriculture Committee needs to address cattle industry issues.
Johnson and Feenstra, who are both members of the committee, drew attention to the producer problems at a House Agriculture Committee Member Day hearing at which members told House Agriculture Committee Chairman David Scott, D-Ga., and House Agriculture Committee ranking member Glenn “GT” Thompson, R-Pa., their priorities for the year.
Feenstra said the cattle producers’ problems go back to the 2019 fire at a Tyson slaughterhouse in Holcomb, Kan. The fire took the plant out of operation and in 2020 the coronavirus pandemic added to the difficulties of cattle producers finding markets for their cattle. While boxed beef prices went up, cattle prices went down.
In recent weeks, boxed beef prices have gone up again while cattle prices have remained stagnant and costs of feed have risen. Cattle producers are losing $100 to $120 per head, and if no action is taken there will be independent producers going out of business within six months, Feenstra said.
Packers say they don’t have enough workers, but producers say the four big meatpackers are buying cattle through formula contracts, he added.
“It is our responsibility to examine what is going on,” Feenstra said, adding that the issues should be discussed before the Agriculture Department’s Livestock Mandatory Reporting Program is reauthorized.
Johnson, who was one of the organizers of a congressional Republican letter urging the Biden administration to continue a Justice Department investigation into the meatpackers, noted that a drought is putting pressure on cattle producers to draw down their herds. Johnson also said the Livestock Mandatory Reporting Program needs to be reauthorized and cover formula-based prices.
Scott told Feenstra he had raised “some very important issues” and that he looks forward to making sure “our cattle industry is thriving.”
–The Hagstrom Report
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