Inrecent years livestock producers, particularly small ones, have been at a competitive disadvantage vis-a-vis large meatpackers because so many market transactions were unreported. Cash market transactions, which the USDA uses to establish market prices, have been drastically reduced in recent years, replaced by contracts and special arrangements. Without open reporting, fair market prices cannot be established and price discrimination (link) is difficult to prove. In 1998-99, states took matters into their own hands and passed legislation that would require packers to reveal the price they pay whenever they purchase livestock. The laws give ranchers and farmers more information on the market price for animals, preventing packers from driving livestock prices to record lows. As South Dakota, Iowa, Missouri, Minnesota and Nebraska passed such legislation, pressure for a national law built. In October 1999, Congress followed the states’ lead and passed mandatory price reporting as part of its 1999 Agricultural Appropriations Bill.
OnApril 2, 2001, the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) began collecting and disseminating livestock market information under the Livestock Mandatory Reporting Act of 1999. The new law required substantial changes to the reporting program, including nearly doubling the number of required reports and releasing reports in a more expeditious manner.
Before national price reporting legislation passed through Congress in 1999, several states took the lead in passing their own versions.
Update 2004: In October 2004, The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) amended the Livestock Mandatory Reporting regulations. This amendment modifies the submission requirements for information regarding domestic and imported boxed lamb cuts sales.
- Livestock Mandatory Price Reporting System: Report to the Secretary of Agriculture – by a review team of agriculture experts, July 2, 2001
- USDA’s Agriculture Marketing Service has a page with Mandatory Livestock and Meat Market News and Prices
- USDA Mandatory Price Reporting web site
- Organization for Competitve Markets
- Western Organization of Resource Councils (WORC)
- Cattlemens Legal Fund
- Campaign to Reclaim Rural America