Packer livestock ownership ban bill introduced

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) re-introduced his packer ban legislation saying, “An effective and efficient marketplace is one where packers that control all harvest capacity of the industry do not also own a majority of the animals to be processed. The fact of the matter is that the market continues to become less competitive. It’s time to see if ending packer ownership of livestock will reverse that trend.”

This legislation would prohibit a packer from owning or feeding livestock directly, through a subsidiary, or through an arrangement that gives the packer operational, managerial or supervisory control over the livestock. There are exemptions in the bill including:

► An arrangement entered into within seven days (excluding Saturday or Sunday) before slaughter of the livestock by a packer.

► A cooperative or entity owned by a cooperative if a majority of its ownership interest is held by “active cooperative members” who “own feed, or control livestock” and provide the livestock to the cooperative for slaughter.

► Packers not covered by mandatory price reporting requirements.

► Packer that owns one processing plant.

Barry Carpenter, president of the North America Meat Institute said “We share Sen. Grassley’s desire for an ‘effective and efficient marketplace’ and that is exactly what dozens of studies affirm. Dismantling our dynamic livestock and meat production and marketing system will only turn the clock back on progress and hurt producers, packers and the consuming public in the process.”

Grassley is expected to press this issue next year when Congress begins discussions on the next farm bill. This legislation has been introduced in previous Congressional sessions.

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