WASHINGTON – Today, The U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry has advanced S.3870 the Meat and Poultry Special Investigator Act of 2022 and S.4030 the Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act of 2022. This legislation may now be considered by the entire U.S. Senate.
U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, released the following opening statement at the business meeting to review S.3870 the Meat and Poultry Special Investigator Act of 2022 and S.4030 the Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act of 2022. A live video of the meeting is available here.
Stabenow’s statement, as prepared for delivery, follows:
I call to order this business meeting to consider two bills: S. 3870, the Meat and Poultry Special Investigator Act of 2022, and S. 4030, the Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act of 2022.
First, I want to say thank you to Senator Boozman and his staff for their wonderful hospitality in Arkansas last Friday. We had a fantastic hearing at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro. Despite the heat, we even had a chance to tour a cotton, peanut, and soybean research farm and meet with lots of great leaders in Arkansas agriculture.
I also appreciate the partnership that Ranking Member Boozman has shown throughout this legislative process. He and I may have different opinions on these bills, but he and his staff have been thoughtful and considerate at every point along the way, and I thank him for his commitment to working together.
One of the hard lessons we’ve learned from the last few years is that while our farmers and food producers are the very best in the world, their dedication is not enough when supply chains break down. When that happens, farmers and hardworking Americans who count on affordable food pay the price.
During the pandemic, a range of disruptions took large chunks of processing capacity offline for months at a time, leading to empty shelves and skyrocketing prices for shoppers. Meanwhile a few of the largest companies at the top reaped record profits, even as farmers saw less money for what they produce.
A supply chain with less competition and transparency poses serious risks. Fewer options mean fewer bids for the cattle that producers sell. And as the largest meatpackers muscle out smaller competitors, farmers have limited local alternatives and longer wait times.
The good news is that work is already underway: In the American Rescue Plan, we secured $1 Billion dollars for local and regional meat processing, and Secretary Vilsack is investing even more into processing capacity –
But more needs to be done.
This Committee has addressed these issues head-on. Last June we held a hearing on the problems facing beef producers and in April we held a legislative hearing to receive feedback on the bills we are considering today. Thank you to Senators Grassley, Tester, Fischer and Wyden for their leadership on these important issues.
These bills will make progress toward a more competitive, transparent, and fair supply chain that is better for American farmers and better able to keep food on all our tables. I look forward to supporting these bills today and urge my colleagues to do so as well. With that, I’ll thank Ranking Member Boozman again for his partnership, and turn to him for his opening remarks.