Jennings: Contract library legislation would provide transparency
On October 20, 2021, Representative Dusty Johnson introduced the Cattle Contract Library Act of 2021 to the US House of Representatives. The bill was assigned to the House Agriculture Committee and was quickly passed through on a consensus vote to the full House. I was excited to see this bill progress as we desperately need more transparency in the cattle market, particularly with fat cattle formula contracts. This bill creates a library of contracts which would provide transparency into fat cattle formula transactions, which make up the majority of the fed cattle trade. It is typical for our congressional delegation to inform industry associations of proposed legislation and ask for their support of the bill. When these opportunities are presented, the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association leadership team looks to the policy that our members developed and approved, and we use that policy to make our decision on whether or not to support the proposed legislation. SDCA was asked for its support which we provided by following our policy. I was disappointed to see that not all of the associations that supposedly represent the best interests of cattle producers were supportive of this bill.
Was this bill going to solve all of the issues in the cattle market today? No. Was it a positive step in the right direction? Absolutely. I am often reminded of the adage about how to eat an elephant, one bite at a time. This bill is an important bite out of the elephant sized issues in the cattle industry, but it will not pass without full industry support. A month ago, my guess would have been that all livestock industry associations had policy promoting market transparency, but now I wonder if they do. As president of SDCA I am always mindful of using the policy our members created in the decisions made on behalf of SDCA, I hope the leaders of other organizations are doing the same and not allowing their personal agendas to influence the direction of the associations they represent.
Eric Jennings, President
South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association
Earl cartoon by Big Dry Syndicate for the June 25, 2022, edition of Tri-State Livestock News
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