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Meat Institute CEO says no need for legislative reforms in cattle, beef markets

WASHINGTON, D.C. – With the U.S. House and Senate considering legislation to intervene in beef and cattle markets, prices for cattle are at or near record highs calling into question the need for heavy-handed government interference.

“Just last week, one cattle marketing analyst described the high prices as ‘stratospheric,'” said Julie Anna Potts, President and CEO of the North American Meat Institute. “As many industry economists have said, the beef and cattle markets are continuing to behave predictably given supply and demand and do not need government mandates and intervention.

“The Grassley-Fischer bill being marked-up in the Senate Agriculture Committee this week will cost producers in the largest cattle producing region millions of dollars, and producers around the country will lose the ability to market their cattle as they choose.”

She adds that the Meat and Poultry Special Investigator bill would establish a Special Investigator at the same time the U.S. Department of Agriculture is proposing to change the longstanding rules under the Packers and Stockyards Act. Establishing a new enforcement office at the same time USDA is changing the rules to be enforced is ill conceived: the regulated community would be subject to increased enforcement simultaneously with legal uncertainty.

The latest USDA annual report on livestock income shows cash receipts for the sale of cattle and calves increased 16 percent, from $63.1 billion in 2020 to $72.9 billion in 2021.

Prices for cattle rose to seven-year highs in 2021, and now in 2022 prices are 17.5 percent above 2021 prices.

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