July 7, 2006
July 7, 2006 - Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns responded this week to a joint Feb. 22, 2006, letter of national livestock associations asking him to immediately implement the recommendations contained in the Government Accountability Office (GAO) report entitled, Livestock Market Reporting (LMR): USDA Has Taken Some Steps to Ensure Quality, but Additional Efforts Are Needed.
Johanns acknowledges that since LMR expired on Sept. 30, 2005, most packers have elected to continue to provide information on a voluntary basis anticipating the reauthorization of the act. However, discontinued cooperation by any one major packer or several smaller packers would significantly affect LMR price information and could prevent the publication of the reports.
He further stated that the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has already begun the necessary steps to implement the GAO recommendations and is committed to having them in place by the end of this fiscal year.
In conclusion, Johanns stated, "We understand your concern and agree that reauthorization of LMR legislation is necessary to maintain an accurate reporting program. Also, the Department of Agriculture supports continuation of the retail price reporting provisions of the act when it is reauthorized. We will continue to work with Congress to address those issues that could improve the collection and publication of information for livestock producers."
"The American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) commends the secretary for his commitment to implement the recommendations administratively and support for retail price reporting, which have been a major issue in the months of Congressional debate about reauthorizing the act," stated Peter Orwick, ASI executive director. "We hope this clears the way to proceed with reauthorization."
The February letter was signed by ASI, the National Pork Producers Council, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association and the American Farm Bureau Federation. Staff contact: Peter Orwick, ext. 33