The three-hour-long cattle market hearing in the Senate Agriculture Committee was the first addressing fairness and competition issues since 2019. After cattle producers and agriculture economists shared their statements, North Dakota Senator John Hoeven asked Kansas State University agriculture economist Glynn Tonsor about the rise in boxed beef prices. “Live cattle prices are struggling to reach pre-pandemic levels. In your opinion, why is that,” asked Hoeven. In his reply, Tonsor said beef prices typically go up and fed cattle prices typically go down when there are major shocks to the supply chain system. “The magnitude of what we’ve experienced stands out. That’s because the life experience that I hope we’re on the end of has been unique,” said Tonsor. During testimony, RaboBank animal protein analyst Dustin Aherin said while the events up to point are uncharted territory, they are explainable. “The imbalance of the market-ready cattle supplies, in the face of reduced operational packing capacity, has put downward pressure on cattle prices. Meanwhile, consumer demand has reached record levels.” Reforms to Livestock Mandatory Reporting and other potential programs, like a cattle contract library, to help improve price discovery and give ranchers more selling options were also discussed.
Subscribe to RRFN
Get a weekly digest from RRFN to stay up-to-date on all the latest news in agriculture.