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USDA publishes final rule to establish cattle contracts library program

Mississippi cattle
Photo courtesy of Mississippi State University

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has published a final rule to establish a cattle contracts library pilot program, a move endorsed by U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss.

Hyde-Smith, who serves on both the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee and Senate Agriculture Committee, used an appropriations process to fund and direct the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) to establish the cattle contracts library. The purpose of the program is to increase market transparency for cattle producers.

“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.”

Other farm-state colleagues have joined Hyde-Smith in promoting the creation of this program 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, which was published by the Federal Register Wednesday morning, 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.

It goes into effect on January 6, 2023.

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