Hoeven Working to Improve Rancher Access to Fair & Competitive Markets, Strengthen Livestock Disaster Programs

BISMARCK, N.D. – At the North Dakota Stockmen’s Association annual meeting today, Senator John Hoeven discussed his efforts as the Ranking Member of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee and a senior member of the Senate Agriculture Committee to:

  • Improve ranchers’ access to fair and competitive markets. 
    • This includes securing language in Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 funding legislation to establish at the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) a cattle contract library, which would help improve price transparency in cattle markets.
  • Strengthen livestock disaster programs, including the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP), the Livestock Forage Program (LFP) and the Emergency Livestock Assistance Program (ELAP).
    • Hoeven recently hosted Senator John Boozman, Ranking Member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, in North Dakota for a discussion with local producers and commodity groups, giving them the opportunity to provide direct input as work begins on the next farm bill.
  • Secure funding for the Emergency Livestock Relief Program (ELRP), which is funded from the $750 million that Hoeven secured last September to aid livestock producers.
    • USDA began sending out ELRP phase-one assistance earlier and has paid out more than $600 million to producers.

“Due to the hard work of U.S. livestock producers, Americans have access to the highest-quality beef in the world, and as such, they deserve the opportunity to compete in a fair market,” said Hoeven. “That’s exactly what we’re working to accomplish by establishing a cattle contract library and advancing other initiatives to create more transparent and competitive cattle markets. At the same time, our ranchers have faced significant challenges, including from last year’s historic drought and severe spring weather, and we continue working to ensure they have the tools they need to recover.”

Improving Competition in Cattle Markets

In addition to advancing the cattle contract library, Hoeven worked to provide an additional $2 million in FY22 for AMS to enforce the Packers and Stockyards Act and has helped introduce legislation to:

  • Establish a new office at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to investigate, prosecute and bring civil or administrative actions for violations of the Packers and Stockyards Act.
  • Require that 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.

Strengthening Livestock Disaster Programs

Further, Hoeven is working to ensure livestock disaster programs effectively help ranchers to recover from losses due to natural disasters. After hearing producers’ concerns at a roundtable discussion he held earlier this year, Hoeven began working with the Farm Service Agency (FSA) to update LIP national payment rates to reflect actual market rates.

The senator raised the issue to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and FSA Administrator Zach Ducheneaux, pressing them to adjust the program’s rates and ensure it adequately covers losses due to eligible diseases. As a result, FSA updated LIP payment rates for calves weighing less than 250 pounds, which are now valued the same as non-adult cattle weighing between 250 and 399 pounds and increased payment rates for calves under 400 pounds.

Hoeven also introduced bipartisan legislation with Senator Tester last year to better align coverage between the LFP and ELAP. The bill would permanently increase producer assistance under LFP to more accurately compensate them for feed costs, while specifying that transportation costs for feed and water are covered losses under ELAP.