The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) will conduct a series of structured stakeholder meetings to seek feedback on current livestock and meat marketing methods and the Livestock Mandatory Reporting (LMR) program. The first meeting is scheduled for Nov. 15-16, 2016, at the Hall of the States located at 444 North Capitol Street, N.W., in Washington, D.C.

This first informational meeting will establish the procedural ground rules and help lay the groundwork for subsequent commodity-specific meetings by clarifying the goals and objectives of the meetings. AMS will provide stakeholders with an overview of current LMR reporting and audit processes. Stakeholders will participate in interest-based problem-solving training and identify possible dates for the future meetings. Separate focus-group meetings for the following three commodity groups-cattle and beef; swine and pork; and sheep, lamb, and imported lamb-will begin in the spring of 2017, after many of the industry groups hold their respective annual meetings and conventions. This process will allow the groups to gather input from their members.

In a Sept. 14, 2016, Notice to Trade, AMS invited national livestock and meat industry associations representing cattle, swine, and lamb producers, meat processors, and other market participants to participate in these stakeholder meetings and openly discuss marketing methods, current challenges with reporting livestock and meat market information, and needs of the industry regarding future revisions to LMR. That notice stated the goal of these meetings was to reach consensus. However, AMS' objective of these meetings is actually to seek individual feedback and advice from the attendees on what the organizations in each commodity area would like to see changed in the next reauthorization of LMR to improve the reporting program. AMS will use this information as the basis for a report to Congress to promote an orderly reauthorization of LMR in 2020.

Fourteen industry organizations have volunteered to participate in this process, including the National Pork Producers Council and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

These meetings are being held as a means of conducting the study assigned by Congress to AMS within the 2015 reauthorization of LMR. AMS is to conduct the study in conjunction with USDA's Office of the Chief Economist and in consultation with cattle, swine, and lamb producers, packers, and other market participants regarding the marketing of livestock and meat products covered by the LMR program.

According to the Agriculture Reauthorizations Act of 2015 Title I, Section 104, the study will: analyze current marketing practices in the cattle, swine, and lamb markets; identify legislative or regulatory recommendations made by cattle, swine, and lamb producers, packers, and other market participants to ensure that information provided under the program; analyze the price and supply information reporting services of USDA related to cattle, swine, and lamb; and address any other issues that the Secretary considers appropriate.

By March 1, 2018, USDA will submit to the Committee on Agriculture of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry of the Senate a report containing the findings of this study.

For further information regarding the stakeholder meetings, please contact Michael Lynch, Director of the Livestock, Poultry, and Grain Market News Division, at Michael.Lynch@ams.usda.gov.