Farm Progress

USDA launches pilot Cattle Contracts Library

Program intended to offer better transparency for cattle pricing and marketing opportunities.

Joshua Baethge, Policy editor

January 31, 2023

2 Min Read
Black Angus cattle eating at Idaho feedlot
Getty Images/Brian Brown

USDA launched its pilot Cattle Contract Library webpage as directed by the 2022 Consolidated Appropriations Act. It will allow users to search terms and information contained in active contracts used for the purchase of fed cattle. The library will also provide information on commonly used cattle contract terms.

Agency officials hope the new tool will empower cattle producers to negotiate better terms, more carefully monitor risks relating to marketing preferences and pricing practices and capitalize on market opportunities to produce cattle.

“USDA is committed to creating a more level playing field for cattle producers and a more balanced, equitable economy for everyone working in food and agriculture,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said. “The Cattle Contracts Library Pilot Program supports this commitment by providing producers with the market information they need to make informed production, marketing, and business decisions.”

National Cattleman’s Beef Association senior director of government affairs Tanner Beymer says his organization has been looking forward to the launch of this program. The NCBA will now begin reviewing the library to determine if its current format provides value to cattle producers.

“We will continue engaging with officials at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and providing feedback on this resource,” Beymer adds.

The pilot library is similar to the working model shared with stakeholders last year. Per rules that became effective on Jan. 6, packers that slaughter an average of not less than 5% of the number of fed cattle slaughtered nationally during the immediately preceding five calendar years are required to submit this information to the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service.

Future enhancements to the library will include information on the number of cattle moving through current contracts defined by contract base price source and volume information sorted by various contract specifications.

USDA Undersecretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Jenny Lester Moffit says that ranchers should enjoy this new window into market opportunities and trends in cattle contracts.

“Transparency is the foundation of fair and competitive markets and critical for producers seeking to grow economic opportunities,” she says. “As we continue to lay the groundwork for more and better markets, USDA looks forward to working with all stakeholders and Congress to enable this pilot library to deliver meaningful and lasting value to producers.”

AMS plans to host a series of meetings and webinars to help stakeholders better understand how to use the pilot library. The first webinar is scheduled for 11 a.m. E.S.T. on Feb. 8. Learn more.

Got a policy question or hot topic idea? Sent it to [email protected].

About the Author(s)

Joshua Baethge

Policy editor, Farm Progress

Joshua Baethge covers a wide range of government issues affecting agriculture. Before joining Farm Progress, he spent 10 years as a news and feature reporter in Texas. During that time, he covered multiple state and local government entities, while also writing about real estate, nightlife, culture and whatever else was the news of the day.

Baethge earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of North Texas. In his free time, he enjoys going to concerts, discovering new restaurants, finding excuses to be outside and traveling as much as possible. He is based in the Dallas area where he lives with his wife and two kids.

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