Livestock Industry's Pricing Reviewed

Feb 10, 1999


Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee Larry Combest (R-TX) today brought industry groups, the Chief Economist from the Department of Agriculture, and members of the Committee together to review the causes of low prices facing the livestock industry and to begin working toward possible solutions for both the short and long term.

In the past year, a number of circumstances have converged resulting in low prices for the livestock industry.  Structural change within the industry, economic crises abroad, increased regulatory burdens and the weather have all contributed to the slump which is the matter of industry-wide debate.

 "As members of this Committee are called upon to respond to the serious difficulties facing livestock producers, we must do so only with a sound understanding of the problems if we expect to make wise policy decisions for the future," Combest said.

"These adverse market conditions have caused considerable fear and hardship for many of this Committee's constituents.  This, in turn, has generated numerous and lively discussion about why prices have fallen and what to do about it," Combest said.  "It has been my experience with constituents that while everyone feels very strongly about it, there is little agreement on what role government can play in improving the market."

"Our interest is certainly focused on today's crisis, but more importantly, as we review today's problems, we must not lose sight of providing the tools producers need for success:  flexibility, market opportunity and freedom from burdensome regulations.   I believe that these will put more money into the hands of producers for the long term," said Rep. Richard Pombo (R-CA), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Livestock and Horticulture.

"Livestock and poultry products account for more than half the value of all our domestic agricultural production.  So when livestock producers suffer, their losses inevitably spill over to all the rural businesses that depend on them for their own livelihoods," said Charlie Stenholm, the Committee's Ranking Member.  "If we are to maintain a healthy rural America, we must pay particular attention to the impact that livestock prices ultimately have on producers, rural businesses and rural communities."

The purpose of today's hearing was to begin a discussion among affected people aimed at working toward mutually beneficial solutions for the livestock industry in the long and short term.  The issues of price reporting, country of origin labeling and the changing structure of the livestock industry were among topics addressed today.

Combest represents Texas' 19th Congressional District which includes the Panhandle, South Plains, and Permian