Hoeven Outlines Efforts to Improve Transparency & Competition in Cattle Markets at I-BAND Annual Meeting

Senator Also Discusses Disaster Aid for Livestock Producers

BISMARCK, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven today addressed the Independent Beef Association of North Dakota (I-BAND) annual meeting, where he outlined his efforts to advance fair cattle markets by increasing transparency and competition. This includes:

  • Securing the following priorities in the Senate’s fiscal year (FY) 2022 Agriculture Appropriations legislation:
    • A provision establishing a pilot program at the Agriculture Marketing Service (AMS) for a cattle contract library, which would help improve price transparency in cattle markets.
    • An additional $2 million for AMS to enforce the Packers and Stockyards Act. 
  • Helping introduce legislation to:
    • Require a minimum of 50 percent of a meat packer’s weekly volume of beef slaughter be purchased on the open or spot market. The legislation is sponsored by Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.).
    • Expand ranchers’ ability to provide more locally-produced meat to consumers by utilizing custom slaughterhouses.

The senator also discussed the $10 billion in disaster assistance, including $750 million specifically for livestock producers, approved by Congress as part of the continuing resolution passed in September. As the top Republican on the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee, Hoeven worked to secure the disaster aid and included the funding set-aside specifically for ranchers.

“Our ranchers produce the best beef in the world, and they deserve access to fair and competitive markets,” said Hoeven. “That’s why we are working to advance legislation that will help improve price discovery and give ranchers more options for getting their product to market. At the same time, this year’s drought has hit all of North Dakota agriculture hard and has taken a significant toll on our ranchers. The $750 million we’ve secured for our livestock producers will provide an important support to help them weather these challenges, and we’re pressing the FSA to get these payments out as efficiently and effectively as possible.”

Disaster Assistance

Following passage of the disaster aid, Hoeven has been working to ensure the Farm Service Agency (FSA) distributes the assistance to producers as soon as possible and in a way that works for farmers and ranchers. To this end, the senator recently held a roundtable with livestock producers and FSA Administrator Zach Ducheneaux in Dickinson, providing ranchers the opportunity to give direct input to the FSA. In addition, Hoeven spoke with U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack earlier this week to press the Department to provide producers with program details and a timeline for disaster assistance. 

Specifically, the $10 billion in disaster assistance includes:

  • $9.25 billion in disaster assistance to aid producers who suffered losses due to droughts, hurricanes, wildfires, floods and other qualifying disasters. The funding will extend the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus (WHIP+) to cover losses in calendar years 2020 and 2021. 
  • $750 million for livestock producers for losses incurred during 2021 due to drought or wildfire. This disaster assistance, the first specifically for livestock producers since 2008, will build upon existing farm bill programs for livestock producers. 

In addition to this $10 billion in disaster funding, the Senator has worked to provide producers with additional tools and support during the drought, including:

  • The permanent expansion of the Emergency Assistance for Livestock Program (ELAP) to provide producers impacted by severe drought with 60% reimbursement of their feed transportation costs above what would have been incurred in a normal year.
  • Emergency procedures and new flexibilities from the Risk Management Agency (RMA) for crop insurance providers to help ensure quick and fair adjustments and payments to producers.
    • Hoeven pressed for this flexibility during his recent drought tour with RMA Acting Administrator Richard Flournoy, and it comes as part of the senator’s efforts to help producers weather severe drought conditions in North Dakota. 
  • Providing flexibility to farmers when utilizing cover crops, which provide an additional source of feed for livestock producers.
    • Following Acting Administrator Flournoy’s visit to North Dakota, RMA announced it will allow producers to hay, graze or chop cover crops on prevented plant acres at any time while still receiving their full crop insurance indemnity.