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SIXTEEN AGS CALL ON CONGRESS TO PASS                                                    The Midwest Cattleman · August 24, 2023 · P10
                         THE EATS ACT NOW
                                 By Jennifer Shike
         Iowa      Attorney
      General        Brenna
      Bird led 16 states
      in a letter to U.S.
      Congressional lead-
      ership on  Aug. 9,
      urging the passage
      of the Ending  Agri-
      cultural  Trade  Sup-
      pression     (“EATS”)
      Act. The  EATS Act                                                      OPTIMISM FOR CATTLE FEEDING RETURNS
      seeks to preserve                                                                              DWINDLES
      states' rights by lim-             release. “No other state should        Cattle closing out in January will need prices
      iting their ability to impose  be dictating how Iowans farm,                  exceeding $188/cwt. to generate profits.
      agricultural regulations on  let alone California’s bureau-
      other states.                      crats. The  EATS Act  stops          Cattle feeding breakevens  $300/head in July, and the
         “As Attorneys  General,  we  California’s overreach and  soared for cattle placed in  outlook is for positive returns
      have  expertise in defending  gives state attorneys general  July, according to the Live- to continue.
      our States’ laws.  The EATS  the tools they need to fight  stock Marketing Informa-                        Through the rest of 2023,
      Act gives States the tools they  for farmers and ranchers. We  tion Center (LMIC). Cattle  LMIC estimates breakevens
      need to protect farmers and  urge Congress to pass the  that close out in January will  to be between $150/cwt. and
      ranchers. By explicitly autho- EATS  Act and stand up for  need an estimated closeout  $176/cwt.  The futures mar-
      rizing courts to issue a prelim- livestock producers across the  price exceeding $188/cwt. to  ket has most contracts ahead
      inary injunction while a case  nation.”                               generate profits.                 of breakevens by $10 to more
      is pending, the EATS Act en-          This letter was preceded by       Feeder steer prices have  than $20/cwt, ensuring that
      sures that food markets will  a coalition of 11 governors, in- been the primary drivers  cattle  feeding  returns  will
      not be disrupted while a court  cluding Iowa Gov. Kim Reyn- to the cattle feeding return  likely be profitable in 2023.
      figures out whether a State’s  olds, who wrote to U.S. Con- breakevens’ steady climb,  LMIC is estimating the aver-
      new regulation is lawful,” the  gressional leadership in June  LMIC noted. Feeder steers  age per head return annual-
      authors wrote in the letter.       to encourage the passage of  in Dodge City have increased  ly will be close to $250/head,
         The bill prevents California  the EATS Act.                        since  December of  last year,  like the 2014 average.
      from regulating farmers and           Iowa led the letter joined  jumping from $172 to the                 The outlook for next year,
      ranchers across the country  by Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana,  $180s, then the  $190s, and  however, is not as positive,
      by preserving states’ author- Kentucky, Mississippi, Mis- then at $242/cwt. in July, a  LMIC said, with breakevens
      ity to regulate agriculture  souri, Montana, New Hamp- 40% increase in eight months.  surging to $188/cwt. This is
      within their own borders, ac- shire, Oklahoma, South Car- During that time, breakeven  very close to the current fu-
      cording to a press release.        olina, South Dakota,  Texas,  prices have increased 27%.             tures Live Cattle February
         California’s Proposition 12  Utah, Virginia, and West Vir-           On a per head basis, LMIC  contract price of $189/cwt.
      requires out-of-state pork pro- ginia.                                estimated returns were as  April’s  Live  Cattle  contract
      ducers to comply with strict          In the letter, 20 states  high as $400/head earlier  offers a bit more breathing
      farming regulations if they  signed a Supreme Court brief  this summer, but July’s close- room at $191/cwt., but that
      want to sell their products in  explaining their position on  outs dropped nearly $100/ will mean feeder cattle prices
      the state, the release pointed  future pork production, Bird  head due to higher costs, al- will need to stabilize if cattle
      out. Because California ac- said.                                     most all of which can be at- feeders are going to return to
      counts for approximately 13%          “Our  States  support  let- tributed to the increase in  profits seen in 2023.
      of the nation’s pork consump- ting individuals buy the an- feeder price. Still, returns
      tion, it has major influence  imal products they want and  are expected to be more than  BEEF
      over the whole market.             to allow States to lawfully
         “California needs to keep  regulate livestock production  clear that a State can regu- are hog wild. Justice Kava-
      their hands off our bacon,” At- within their own borders. But  late how livestock is produced  naugh recognized that Cali-
      torney General Bird said in a  when a state decides to regu- within its borders but not in  fornia’s requirements might
                                                       late  outside its  other States,” the authors  even worsen animal health
                                                       borders,  and  to  wrote.                              and welfare.  And because
                                                       try to impose its      Senator Roger Marshall,  California buys about 13 per-
                                                       agenda on other  (R- Kan.), along with other Re- cent of the nation’s pork, it is
                                                       states,  that  goes  publican partners, introduced  prohibitively expensive for
                                                       too  far.  Regula- the EATS Act in June. Other  farmers to separate out Cali-
                                                       tions like Califor- senators backing the  EATS  fornia-approved pork from the
                                                       nia’s Prop 12 will  Act include Senators Chuck  rest. California’s burdensome
                                                       disrupt farmers’  Grassley (Iowa), Joni Ernst  regulations will put small,
                                                       ability  to feed  (Iowa), Eric Schmidt (Mo.),  medium, and  possibly even
                                                       the nation.  At a  John Cornyn (Texas),  Tom  large  pork  producers  out  of
                                                       minimum, Prop  Cotton (Ark.), Deb Fischer  business. And American  con-
                                                       12 will force high  (Neb.), Kevin Cramer (N.D.),  sumers won’t be able to afford
                                                       food prices on  Tedd Budd (N.C.) and Bill Ha- bacon for breakfast,” the au-
       "At a minimum, Prop 12 will force high food prices on the
       American people. Congress should make clear that a state   the  American gerty (Tenn.).                thors wrote.
       can regulate how livestock is produced within its borders   people. Congress   “California’s radical-draft-
       but not in other States,” the authors wrote in a letter to U.S.
       Congressional leadership.                       should       make ed requirements for farmers  Drovers
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