WASHINGTON — Two major pieces of legislation that South Dakota Congressman Dusty Johnson helped shepherd through the U.S. House of Representatives are now on their way to the Senate.
The first, which Johnson introduced, creates transparency in cattle pricing.
It passed by an overwhelming 411-13 vote.
The Cattle Contract Library Act would require packers to report terms of alternative marketing agreements between packers and producers, equipping ranchers with additional market data needed to make informed marketing and business decisions.
Johnson says the bill is not a silver bullet for the producers, but is an important first step.
“We haven’t been willing to accept a half loaf, and as a result, all too often cattle country has come away with nothing,” he said. “This is an almost unprecedented legislative win. And of course, we want to build on it — we’re not done — we’ve got work to do. But you can’t finish the marathon if you don’t run the first mile.”
Also passing by a wide margin Wednesday night, the Ocean Shipping Reform Act, which Johnson and California Democrat John Garamendi co-sponsored.
The final vote on that bill was 364-60.
The bill will especially help South Dakota’s ag industry. It requires shipping companies to adhere to “minimum service standards that meet the public interest.” It also prohibits them from retaliating against a shipper by threatening to withhold available cargo space.
Johnson says the broad bipartisan victories for both bills improve their chances in the Senate.
“That sends a real message that even in the rough-and-tumble, highly partisan house, good policy legislation can get some pretty big vote totals,” said Johnson. “So I think it sends a clear message to the Senate that … action is appropriate.”
Johnson says South Dakota Senator John Thune, Minnesota’s Amy Klobuchar and others plan to introduce ocean shipping reform legislation next week. In addition, he says there are already bills pending in the Senate that include the cattle contract library language.