PRICE Act introduced to aid cattle producers

Oct 15, 2020
In The News

PRICE Act introduced to aid cattle producers

Written by Kamryn Kozisek
Published by CSC Eagle

South Dakota Congressman Dusty Johnson introduced a new act hoping to help the U.S. cattle industry after COVID-19.  

The Price Reform in Cattle Economics Act (PRICE Act) is based in creating a transparency in the cattle industry. Johnson began writing the act after seeing the cattle industry suffer due to COVID-19. The act would require USDA to assist small processing plants during pandemics.  

Cattle producers were hurt financially after COVID-19. Producers were already struggling before the pandemic after a fire burned a Tyson beef processing plant down, in Holcomb, Kansas. The plant processed 6,000 cattle a day, the loss of the plant caused the industry to struggle to find buyers.

The PRICE Act would create a transparency and increased price reporting in the cattle industry. It would also create more small processing plants and increase risk management solutions. The Packer’s and Stockyards act would be updated.

An issue that small packing companies have is passing United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspections, which must be done on a regular basis. The plants have to provide an area for the inspector to work and have to pass state and federal inspections.  

“It is really hard for small processing plants to get USDA certified.” Ron Bolze, CSC professor, said, “They have to have a space for the inspector to come in and work. It is pretty uncommon for those plants to have the space or the money for that.” 

The PRICE Act would allow new direct sales to consumers. It creates loans to help small processing plants to expand and forms a grant program to ease costs of inspections and trainings. The goal of the act is to level the playing field between large processing plants and small processing plants.  

Investigations into fraud in the beef processing industry have been conducted several times in the last ten years, including an investigation at the Tyson plant in Holcomb. Investigations did not find evidence of fraud in any cases. The PRICE Act would put into place mandatory price reporting and transparency in the fed-cattle market.  

“Fraud has been investigated many times in the cattle industry in my lifetime,” Bolze said, “It would be extremely helpful for the cattle industry to have transparency to keep everybody happy and make sure everything is fair.” 

The act would also help the poultry industry by providing holiday and overtime fee relief. It would allow for both poultry and livestock meat that has been state inspected to be sold directly to consumers. This would amend the Federal Meat Inspection Act. 

The  National Institute of Food and Agriculture would be required to commission studies on small processing plants under the PRICE Act. The goal of the study would be to find the challenges that small processing plants face with the USDA certification process.

During times of a pandemic or when meat is a supply in demand the PRICE act would allow producers to graze cover crops without having a discount on crop insurance. It would also allow USDA to open Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) land to grazing and agricultural production due to COVID-19.

The act is currently supported by National Cattlemen’s Association, South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association and American Farm Bureau Federation. It is co-sponsored by representatives, Darren Soto (D-FL), Jim Hagedorn (R-MN), Glen Thompson (R-PA), Tom Emmer (R-MN), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Jason Smith (R-MO), Henry Cuellar (D-TX), Rick Crawford (R-AR), Frank Lucas (R-OK), David Rouzer (R-NC) and Greg Gianforte (R-MT). It is also co-sponsored by Mike Conway (R-TX), an Agriculture Committee ranking member. 


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