Ranchers send message to Congress

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President Tracy Brunner testified before the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture. Brunner, a fourth generation rancher and cattle feeder from the Flint Hills area of Kansas, stressed to the subcommittee that over-regulation poses the greatest threat to the profitability of cattle producers.

“Today we ask for no direct action from our government in our cattle marketing systems and forums,” said Brunner. “The cattle industry relies on the transparency of price discovery to send clear signals up and down the beef supply chain. We have recognized the volatility in the cattle futures market and we are working directly with the CME Group to find ways to address it. Our joint NCBA/CME working group is analyzing potential changes to ensure the markets work for producers who are using these tools to manage their market risks. Without futures contract integrity, our industry will abandon the use of these markets as a risk management tool.”

The hearing also addressed the assertion by USDA Secretary Vilsack that he would instate the proposed Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration marketing rule that resulted from language included in the 2008 Farm Bill.

“We have worked for years to find new and innovative ways to market cattle,” said Brunner. “Alternative marketing arrangements have been studied by USDA and independent groups, and the results show that these alternatives benefit producers and consumers alike. The proposed GIPSA marketing rule would have made USDA the ultimate arbiter of how cattle are marketed and taken away our ability as cattle producers to market cattle the way we want. That is why bi-partisan appropriations language defunded any additional work on, or implementation of, the proposed GIPSA marketing rule. We do not need USDA dictating how we can or cannot market our cattle.”

In closing, Brunner asked the subcommittee to help in easing the regulatory burdens faced by the industry.
“Solving our price problems relies on addressing the true issues of consequence to the cattle industry,” said Brunner. “Taking action to reform the Endangered Species Act, leveling the playing field for beef exports by passing the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and helping us keep EPA at bay would go a long way in easing the pressures on our industry.”

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