On Monday, May 10th, the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Farmers Union, R-CALF USA, and the United States Cattlemen’s Association (“the organizations”) held an historic meeting at the request of the Livestock Marketing Association to address challenges in the cattle market and discuss solutions toward a more financially sustainable industry. In its current state, the cattle industry benefits only a handful of consolidated and highly influential corporate interests. Among other harms to consumers and rural communities, this has resulted in market manipulations, vulnerable supply chains, and severely depleted ranks of full-time ranchers in the U.S.
In such divisive times, it is encouraging to see leaders set aside their differences in order to create actual change that benefits hardworking Americans. Farm Action Fund applauds the organizations for issuing a public statement announcing their intention to address issues like packer concentration, price transparency and discovery, and the enforcement of the Packers and Stockyards Act.
Farm Action Fund encourages the organizations to pursue all three action items set forth in the joint statement. Reinstating the USDA’s Livestock Mandatory Reporting requirements and investigating the corrupt practices of meatpackers will bring fairness and accountability, and encouraging investment in independent, local, and regional packers will lay a firm foundation for the industry of tomorrow.
Farm Action Fund extends our thanks to the organizations for their public commitment, and looks forward to working alongside them to establish a more sustainable, competitive, and inclusive cattle industry. Earlier this year, Farm Action Fund urged USDA to prioritize antitrust enforcement in its first 100 days by strengthening the Packers and Stockyards Act and collaborating with the DOJ on a full antitrust review of the largest meatpackers. Farm Action Fund has also encouraged state legislatures and Attorneys General in Missouri and Kansas to investigate large meatpackers, which have reaped record profits while cattle producers are receiving record low levels of compensation for their live cattle.