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Beef Buzz News

Don Schiefelbein tells U.S. House Ag Committee that Freedom to Market Matters

Thu, 28 Apr 2022 11:20:48 CDT

Don Schiefelbein tells U.S. House Ag Committee that Freedom to Market Matters For the second day in a row, the cattle industry and cattle markets are in the spotlight in Congress. First on April 26, the Senate Committee, then yesterday, April 27, the House Agriculture Committee. One of the individuals testifying before the House Ag Committee was the president of the National Cattleman’s Beef Association, Don Schiefelbein.

The Senate hearing was focused on the Price Transparency Act being put forward by Deb Fischer and Charles Grassley from the Senate. The House was looking at the markets, but also the meat packers, but Schiefelbein said it was important that he got a word in about the Grassley-Fischer bill.

“Briefly, I’d like to address the cattle price discovery transparency act; Senate Bill 4030, and its house companion, HR 5995,” Schiefelbein said. “NCBA opposes this legislation.”

Schiefelbein said Freedom to market matters and has allowed cattle producers like himself to respond directly to consumer needs. If the government were to erode this freedom or completely take it away Schiefelbein said everyone suffers.

Later on, in Q&A, Schiefelbein reiterated his plan to the lawmakers.

“Government, please stay out of our markets,” Schiefelbein said. “We mentioned earlier that the marketplace is an incredibly complex situation in agriculture. I don’t know if any of you recall the 1986 dairy buy-out when the government decided to put its finger into the marketing place. I was a victim of that. That was the most awful disruption of beef cattle prices in the history of the beef cattle industry.”

It is at those points, Schiefelbein said, that the marketplace needs some adjustment to get back.

“The last thing we want to do is to inject the government into the marketplace in a matter where we can’t get back out,” Schiefelbein said.

One thing Schiefelbein would like to see the government’s involvement in is oversight of the packers.

“Following Both the Holcomb fire, and COVID-19, packer capacity loss has resulted in the highest recorded spreads between boxed beef and live cattle,” Schiefelbein said. “$67.17 cwt and $279 cwt respectively- this behavior is rooted in basic laws of supply and demand.”

Given the magnitude of these price disparities, Schiefelbein said it would have been imprudent not to further scrutinize the packers.

“That is precisely why NCBA called upon the Department of Justice to investigate the four major packers,” Schiefelbein said. “The results of this investigation have yet to be released.”

Schiefelbein said he urges congress to proceed carefully as we await the findings.

“I ask that you continue to engage with the Attorney General as he continues this investigation and to hold off on crafting new legislation until a determination has been made,” Schiefelbein said.

A little later during Q&A, Schiefelbein got a chance to hit on the DOJ one more time.

“The bottom line is, when you look at it, we have asked the DOJ to do an investigation on the beef packers almost two years ago,” Schiefelbein said.

Still, today, Schiefelbein said we have not heard a thing.

“We don’t know what the situation is, what the response ought to be,” Schiefelbein said. “So, what cattle producers need more than ever is answers to questions.”

Without answers to these questions, Schiefelbein said it is difficult for cattle producers to adjust and make sure things are executed correctly.

“To me, the laws are in the books,” Schiefelbein said. “It is enforcement that matters and making sure we are carrying out the rules that are already in place to ensure that we have a fair market system.”

Schiefelbein also had the chance to talk about the country-of-origin labeling with members of the House Ag Committee.

“The bottom line is, country of origin labeling- I am a huge supporter of U.S. beef,” Schiefelbein said. “I travel the world telling them how good U.S. beef is.”

The rub with the country-of-origin labeling, Schiefelbein said, has nothing to do with labeling beef as “Made from the United States” and has everything to do with the government mandating country of origin labeling where you are forcing the government to get into the marketing of the product, and not the retailers, purveyors or others who will have a cash incentive.

To read Senate Bill 4030, Click Here.
To see details and watch video of the complete hearing, Click Here.

Listen to more of Don Schiefelbein speaking to the U.S. House Ag Committee on keeping government out of the markets by clicking the LISTEN BAR below.

The Beef Buzz is a regular feature heard on radio stations around the region on the Radio Oklahoma Network and is a regular audio feature found on this website as well. Click on the LISTEN BAR below for today’s show and check out our archives for older Beef Buzz shows covering the gamut of the beef cattle industry today.



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