Miss. Senator Helped Secure Funding, Language Directing USDA to Establish Cattle Contracts Library

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) today welcomed the publication of a final rule to establish a Cattle Contracts Library Pilot Program, a congressionally-directed project within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to increase market transparency for cattle producers.

Hyde-Smith, who serves on both the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee and Senate Agriculture Committee, used the FY2022 appropriations process to fund and direct the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) to establish the cattle contracts library.  The Federal Register published the final rule Wednesday morning.  It goes into effect on Jan. 6, 2023.

“When fully implemented, this cattle contracts library should shed light on any unfair practices contributing to the unfair price chasm between producers, packers, and customers,” Hyde-Smith said.  “As a rule, I am for fewer federal regulations, but in this case Congress directed USDA to take action.  The requirements in this rule are a reasonable response to current market practices that are hurting small livestock producers and, in the end, consumers.” 

Hyde-Smith and other farm-state colleagues have promoted the creation of a cattle contracts library to explain the significant difference between the prices received by farmers and ranchers for their cattle in relation to the prices paid by consumers for beef products.

The final rule establishes which large packers must submit contractual information for the purchase of cattle based on the previous five calendar years.  According to AMS, the cattle library will include detailed contractual information and volumes purchased against the contracts.  

The new rule is similar to provisions included in the Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act of 2022 (S.4030).  Hyde-Smith is an original cosponsor of that bill.  Hyde-Smith also stressed the need for fairness for producers and consumers at an April hearing on S.4030 at which William “Ricky” Ruffin of Ruffin Farms in Bay Springs testified on behalf of the United States Cattlemen’s Association.