House Ag Committee Hears Farm Bill Ideas

The House Agriculture Committee heard from the major livestock associations on the direction they think the next US Farm Bill should take.  They heard opinions on the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration, a Foot and Mouth Disease vaccine bank, Country of Origin Labeling and Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza vaccine use.

Present at the hearings were the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President Craig Uden and the National Pork Producers Council vice president David Herring.

Not present at the hearings were smaller trade associations like R-CALF USA, a smaller cattlemen’s association focused on cow/calf producers, and the National Farmers Union.  Both have supported many proposed changes to the Packers & Stockyards Act intended to protect fair trade between producers and buyers.

“We did not participate,” said R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard.  “We were not invited.”

Uden and Herring called for $150 million a year in funding over five years to develop a stronger and more ade1uate FMD vaccine bank.

“Analysts estimate that an FMD outbreak in the United States could potentially cost our nation’s livestock producers billions of dollars in the first 12 months alone,” Uden was quoted by Feedstuffs as saying.  “An FMD outbreak has the potential to cause enormous economic losses to not only livestock producers but also to auction markets, slaughterhouses, food processors and related industries.”

Herring added that an FMD outbreak could cost the beef, pork, corn and soybean industries along an estimated $200 billion over 10 years, quoting Iowa State University research, Feedstuffs said.

The pair said a bank of 10 million doses of FMD vaccine were needed since FMD is extremely contagious.  Other sources have said it is the most contagious disease known to man.  With a million hogs and another half million cattle being transported at any given time on US highways, the need could grow quickly to 30 or 40 million doses.

 

GIPSA RULE OPPOSED

 

Uden also said NCBA opposed an interim final rule to the P&SA from the GIPSA, called “Unfair Practices and Undue Preferences in Violation of the Packers and Stockyards Act.”  The group’s analysis led it to conclude that packer buyers would offer only one price for all cattle, regardless of quality to avoid opening themselves to frivolous lawsuits from those claiming favoritism not based on cattle quality.

Feedstuffs went on to say that Herring submitted written testimony about the Packers and Stockyards Act’s interim final rule.  He said the rule would take away the need to prove injury to competition, which would open the floodgates to P&SA lawsuits against packers, turning each contract dispute into a federal case subject to triple damages.

The pair also claimed that the threat of lawsuits would drive packers to own more cattle and hogs and to integrate themselves even further, an outcome the P&SA was created to prevent.

 

CASH CATTLE STEADY TO UP $5

 

Cash cattle markets were steady to up $5 with trading steady at $128 to $130 per cwt in the Southern Plains and up $2.50 to $5 in Nebraska at $133 to $136.50.  Dressed-basis trading last week was mostly at $210, up $8 to $10.

Average fed cattle exchange auction prices Wednesday were $5.00 per cwt higher at $133.31, versus $128.31 a week earlier.

The USDA’s choice cutout Thursday was down $0.72 per cwt at $222.28, while select was off $0.03 at $215.77.  The choice/select spread narrowed to $6.51 from $7.20 with 149 loads of fabricated product sold into the spot market.

The CME Feeder Cattle Index for the seven days ended Wednesday was $131.58 per cwt, up $1.56.  This compares with Thursday’s Mar settlement of $133.70, down $0.30.