To: NMA Members

Fr: Rosemary Mucklow

NMA Executive Director

Re: Price Reporting Legislation July 29, 1999




The United States Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry today reported out a Bill to amend the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946. The legislation is an unprecedented invasion of the meat industry’s financial data; no other free market industry in the United States is required to report its cost of goods sold and its sales, by quantity and price, on a twice daily basis, to a government agency. The bill establishes a program of mandatory market reporting for certain meat packers regarding the prices, quantities, and terms of sale for the procurement of domestic cattle, swine, lambs, and products of such livestock, to improve the collection of information regarding the marketing of cattle, swine, lambs, and products of such livestock, and for other purposes.

The Senators, several of whom expressed reservations, generally agreed to repress inclinations to amend the bill at the Committee mark-up. There did not appear to be total agreement that the bill would be placed on the unanimous consent calendar in the full Senate, thus there remains a real potential that amendments will be offered on the floor when it comes to the full Senate. As soon as NMA has a copy of the 60-page bill, it will be posted on NMA’s web-site.

The action today followed a ten-hour meeting on Tuesday afternoon/evening by Senate staff with industry and organizational representatives including NMA. Few changes from the draft bill prepared in the Senate staff marathon session were made today.

The bill embodies mandatory reporting obligations for packers slaughtering more than 125,000 cattle or 100,000 hogs annually. It seeks reporting by electronic means twice daily. It provides for civil penalties of $10,000 per willful violation. It lays forth a bewildering array of categories to be reported, by grade, and requires volume reporting. It sets criteria to gather information from regional firms. It provides assurance to protect confidentiality of any individual firm reporting. It also provides for the reporting of boxed beef, again in a bewildering array of categories.

The bill language is an attempt by organizational representatives and Senate staff to write legislation to respond to the concerns raised by NCBA, NPPC, and grass roots producers. As written, it is a complicated layer of heavy government regulation on the meat packing and processing industry which will, in one giant step, increase hugely the regulatory burden on red meat by comparison with poultry.

The members of National Meat Association have been strong supporters of the voluntary USDA Market News Program. They are unalterably opposed to this bill. It’s time for NMA members to call their Senators and their Congressmen and let them know how they feel.