Beef Buzz News
NCBA's Ethan Lane Believes Grassley-Fischer Bill Wil Not Accomplish What the Authors Are IntendingWed, 04 May 2022 09:18:43 CDT
Ron Hays features Ethan Lane of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s D.C. office. KC Sheperd is in the Capitol this week with the National Association of Farm Broadcasters Washington Watch. One of the newsmakers she caught up with was Ethan Lane on price transparency and livestock market reauthorization.
“The hearings that we saw last week up on Capitol Hill, one in the Senate and one in the House, were the 6th and 7th hearings we have seen on this issue in the last two years,” Lane said. “It has been a really good opportunity to really get into the thick of what this bill would do, and maybe more importantly, what it won’t do.”
Lane said he thinks a lot of hope has been pinned by the bill’s advocates on what a cash mandate will do for the markets. What we have seen repeatedly, he added, from pretty much every ag economist in the country and increasingly from market participants is that this particular mandate solution will not accomplish what the bill’s authors are intending.
“The intent is good, it just doesn’t do what they want it to do,” Lane said. “We need to look at some of those other options that are in there.”
Transparency, Lane said is important as well as getting more data out there for our marketplace. Many things are still clouded behind confidentiality, he added.
“The Livestock Mandatory Reporting process is going to give us the opportunity to unlock some of that,” Lane said. “Maybe look at combining some regions, bringing some new states in, getting some of that Colorado data out, looking at some of the lost business up in the sale barns in the North. There is a lot of fat cattle trading there that isn’t reported.”
LMR presents many opportunities, Lane said, including the cattle contract library and a 14-day delivery piece.
“Those are good pieces of work that really can move the industry forward and improve the market, Lane said, “but we really are sort of vapor-locked on this mandate piece that is becoming increasingly obvious how unpopular it really is amongst producers that actually engage in that segment of the supply chain.”
Lane said we need to keep our focus on looking for ways to get those things passed, that everyone can agree on.
On the livestock market reporting reauthorization, Lane said we are riding that appropriation extension wave that we have been on for the last couple of years, so the authority will expire at the end of September along with everything else. Conveniently, he added it will expire right before the big election coming up so that will give a chance to make progress there.
“If not, hopefully we will ride that appropriation’s wave while we continue to look for opportunities for a full, 5-year reauthorization,” Lane said. “I think there are a lot of areas that everyone can agree on that we could make some changes to LMR to improve how it works. That needs to be the focus.”
Unfortunately, Lane said all the time we should have spent talking about LMR, what we have spent on this unpopular mandate idea.
“There is a lot of work before the Senate Ag Committee and House Ag Committee right now,” Lane said. “We are way behind on the farm bill, and we are way behind on talking about some of these programs that are being put to use right now for disaster assistance and things like that. We have real work to do.”
Lane said is time to get back focused on those things and get the ball moving forward. LMR is certainly one of those big items, he added.
“What we keep talking about is the fact that the DOJ doesn’t speak in press releases and for a lot of us, that is hard to comprehend because that is all we do,” Lane said. “They speak through indictments, and they haven’t indicted anybody in this case.”
Lane said they have continued to look into it and you hear reports, everyone, once and a while that they are asking questions and doing things to make progress.
“That is great, but in the meantime, we need to focus on what is in front of us,” Lane said. “We know P&S needs more folks, we know they need more money, that oversight is really important.”
The packers, Lane said don’t have enough staff. In the western region it is hard to get people to call back, he added.
“What we have seen from our analysis is of the 2200 cases they have worked on last year is less than 1% was market competition issues,” Lane said. “A lot of it is bonding and stuff like that. So, I think it is important to really make sure we are diagnosing the right problem and providing the right solution and not just playing to the crowd with bills that are going to feel good and sound good to whoever might be advocating that day.”
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