Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., is working with USDA officials to solve problems caused by a rule that allows individual meat packers to hide information from livestock producers and the public.
Enzi invited Keith Collins, USDA Chief Economist, William Hawks, USDA Under Secretary of Marketing and Reporting, representatives from the National Cattlemen's Beef Association and the American Sheep Industry to attend a meeting recently to discuss the 3/60 confidentiality rule in the Mandatory Price Reporting Act.
The Mandatory Price Reporting Act was passed to give livestock producers access to market price information paid by meat packers. However, the strict guidelines of the 3/60 rule, designed to protect packer confidentiality, have prevented information from being shared. The 3/60 rule means that no information has to be reported on days that fewer than three packers buy or if one of those packers buys more than 60 percent of the total head sold.
Enzi said USDA officials are working on an alternative proposal for the confidentiality rule and they are exploring a new frequency dimension that would determine how often information should be released. Enzi believes changes in the 3/60 rule could benefit producers without being unfair to the packers.
"Livestock producers are not receiving the price reporting information they need," said Enzi. "By gathering information over a longer period of time, prices could be reported and shared with livestock producers without disclosing individual packer information."
There are four firms that process 80 percent of all cattle, four firms that process 54 percent of hogs and four firms that control 70 percent of all sheep processing.