July 30, 2010
The Livestock Mandatory Price Reporting Act, first enacted in 1999, requires USDA to establish a program of information regarding the marketing of cattle, swine, lambs, and the products of this livestock. The Act requires that the information, including price and volume information, be provided in a format that can be readily understood by producers; improves the price and supply reporting services of the Department of Agriculture; and encourages competition in the marketplace for livestock and livestock products.
On July 28, the House Agriculture Committee approved H.R. 5852, a bill to extend the Livestock Mandatory Reporting Act for five years until September 30, 2015. Senate Agriculture Committee chairman Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) and Ranking Member Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) have introduced S. 3656, a companion bill to H.R. 5852, which has not yet been approved by the Senate Agriculture Committee. In addition to extending the Act, H.R. 5852 and S. 3656 would:
Section 11001 of the 2008 Farm Bill directed USDA to conduct a study on the effects of requiring hog packer and processing plants to supply USDA with information on the price and volume of wholesale pork cuts. Currently, wholesale pork price reporting is voluntary unlike swine, cattle, boxed beef, lamb, boxed lamb imports, and boxed lamb markets where price reporting for qualifying packers is mandatory under the authority of the Livestock Mandatory Reporting Act of 1999. The study was completed in November 2009. The overall conclusion of the study was that switching from voluntary to mandatory reporting for wholesale pork prices would benefit pork producers and consumers. The study also recommended that USDA consider wholesale price reporting for various segments of the market such as enhanced pork products and separate reports for formula and forward pricing methods.
The 2008 Farm Bill also directed USDA to improve its website for providing information required by the Act and to carry out a market news education program. At a July 20 hearing of the Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy and Poultry of the House Agriculture Committee, USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulation Edward Avalos announced the establishment of a new website for cattle marketing, dubbed the “Cattle Dashboard,” which can be viewed here. The website provides cattle marketing information for different regions and states, with information including negotiated cash prices and weighted average prices, all purchase types, and head counts. This Cattle Dashboard is the prototype which USDA will use for developing market information websites for other livestock and livestock products.