Johnson Statement on USDA Cattle Investigation
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Representative Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) issued a statement following the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) release of the “Box Beef & Fed Cattle Price Spread Investigation Report.” This investigation was announced by USDA Secretary Perdue on August 29, 2019, following the Holcomb, Kansas fire and was expanded to cover COVID-19 after the cattle market faced price disruption.
“I’m disappointed the investigation’s report did not conclude or outline any potential violations of the Packers and Stockyards Act. This report is incomplete, and I will continue to push USDA to finish the job,” said Johnson.
“I am pleased that the report identified a number of policy approaches to address market weaknesses. Many of USDA’s suggestions directly relate to cattle market legislation I’ve already been fighting for. In its report, USDA highlighted the importance of small processor capacity and risk management tools for producers, my bills would solve both areas of market weakness. We have more work to do. I’m hopeful USDA’s support will only drive the momentum of getting these proposals across the finish line.”
Rep. Johnson is supportive of several policy proposals included in USDA’s investigation report and has introduced several bills on related areas of weakness:
USDA calls for adding capacity at the small processor level:
- This year Rep. Johnson introduced H.R.6977, Small Packer Overtime and Holiday Fee Relief for COVID-19 Act of 2020 and H.R.7425, the DIRECT Act of 2020 to accomplish these exact goals without compromising food safety or export markets, as outlined in the report.
USDA Rural Development lending program should be tailored to help processors:
- Rep. Johnson is currently working on legislation to improve these tools to make them more available to small processors wishing to expand or producer cooperatives to enter this space.
USDA supports better risk management tools for livestock producers:
- In the aftermath of the Holcomb fire, Rep. Johnson introduced H.R.4773, Livestock Risk Management and Education Act to work with land grant universities and industry organizations to develop tools to assist small producers who wish to utilize these risk management tools.
USDA called for greater transparency and price discovery:
- Rep. Johnson has been a strong supporter of greater transparency and regulatory equality by introducing H.R.5728, Food Safety Modernization for Innovative Technologies Act and cosponsoring H.R.4881, the Real MEAT Act of 2019 to address imitation meat labeling. He continues to discuss options to ensure accurate price discovery that benefits and expands producer marketing options.