On Wednesday, the U.S. House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry held a hearing to review the market structure of the livestock industry. Congressman Leonard Boswell of Iowa chairs that subcommittee.

"we gathered a wealth of information on both sides of the issue on market structure, which will be extremely helpful as we move forward on the farm bill," says Boswell. "I was, however, very disappointed by the testimony presented by USDA officials and their inability to answer specific questions regarding packer control in the cattle industry."

"I strongly believe that existing authority must be strictly enforced to ensure a fair, orderly and transparent livestock market function," said Subcommittee Ranking Member Robin Hayes of North Carolina. "I appreciate the testimony from today's witnesses, but it is clear there is not a consensus on how Congress should move forward on these issues. Before there is any discussion to include these provisions in the farm bill, more work needs to be done on each of the proposals discussed today."

The subcommittee heard testimony from three panels of witnesses. The first panel included USDA's Grain Inspectors, Packers and Stockyards Administration head James Link. He was joined by Mary Muth of RTI International, which conducted GIPSA's Livestock Meat and Marketing Study. The study, released earlier this year, addresses the economic effects that alternative marketing arrangements outside the spot market have on livestock and meat industries.

The second and third panel was comprised of representatives from livestock producer groups, major farm organizations, researchers and processors. Panelists spoke about major issues facing the livestock sector today, including the processor-producer relationship, packer ownership of livestock, mandatory country-of-origin labeling, and animal identification.

Opening statements of all eight witnesses are available on the committee's Web site. A full transcript of the hearing will be posted on the Committee We bsite in 4 to 6 weeks.

Source: U.S. House Committee on Agriculture