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Agriculture Today

Cattlemen send marketing comments

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January 12, 2011 | 3,020 views | Post a comment

Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America (R-CALF USA) submitted its formal comments Jan. 3 to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) for the CFTC’s rulemakings as required by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act. According to a Jan. 4 R-CALF USA press release, the group urged the commission to use its rulemaking authority to fully restore the cattle futures market to its original purpose of affording U.S. cattle producers a useful marketing tool, void of distortion and manipulation by certain speculators and other dominant market participants, i.e., the concentrated meat packers.

In its comments, R-CALF USA again pointed out that U.S. cattle producers sell their cattle into one of the most highly concentrated marketing structures in the U.S. economy, as today, the four largest U.S. beef packers purchase and slaughter about 85 percent of all slaughter-ready steers and heifers.

“The cattle futures market is susceptible to downward price movements -- in contradiction to supply/demand fundamentals, when beef packers, who may hold a physical hedging position in the market, also engage in substantial speculative short selling of the market,” R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard explained. “The effect of the beef packers’ speculative short selling is to lower not only the futures market price, but also the cash spot market price, which intrinsically is tied to the futures market.”

R-CALF USA believes the commission should:

•Make it unlawful for dominant beef packers to engage in speculative short selling of the market to effectively drive down both futures prices and cash cattle prices.

•Ensure that the live cattle futures market is dominated by physical hedgers, which can be accomplished in the Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s rulemaking by imposing aggregate speculative position limits and distinguishing trades involving bona fide hedgers versus those involving speculation.

•Impose effective speculative position limits across all markets that would curb the commodity indexing strategies of large institutional investors, whose strategies severely distort futures market price discovery.

•Restore daily market price limits to levels that minimize market volatility and reform the practice of allowing cash settlements on futures contracts in lieu of actual delivery of the commodity, a practice that effectively lowers the cattle futures price on the day of contract expiration.

•Impose effective speculative position limits on all feed grain commodities markets that would alleviate the transference of market distortions from the feed grains futures market to the cattle futures market.

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