We were delighted to see the United Food and Commercial Workers took out a full page add in today's Roll Call urging support for the ban on meatpacker ownership of livestock in the Senate Farm Bill. In an accompanying press release UFCW wrote:
A handful of meatpacking corporations dominate the beef and pork industries. Meatpacking companies have used the changing landscape to own as much livestock as possible. As a result, farmers have lost business. In the pork industry, when meatpackers own the hogs from birth to slaughter they can move livestock and production to wherever they can find the cheapest land and labor.
Workers, communities and the environment have paid the price for these disruptions. Giant hog feedlots with lagoons of hog waste sprung up overnight and overwhelmed the environment and water tables in parts of the country where hog production didn’t exist thirty years ago. Giant processing plants were built near the feedlots to employ a workforce that is beholden to the industry. Workers at processing plants located in places like Iowa and South Dakota lost their jobs when plants were shuttered and never reopened.
Left unchecked and unregulated, every meatpacking producer will attempt to operate the same way – moving livestock and production to maximize profits, no matter how many jobs and local economies are destroyed in the process. UFCW's experience is that meatpacking corporations which own livestock push down wage and benefits levels for all workers in the industry.
We really couldn't say it better ourselves. The ban on packer ownership in the Senate Agriculture Committee's bill is good for family farmers and ranchers, good for rural communities, good for the environment, and indeed, good for labor.
But let there be no doubt, large meatpacking interests will try to strip this good provision on the Senate floor. There should also be no doubt that we have a real chance of retaining the gains made in committee as the bill moves out of the Senate. The key will be grassroots pressure. In other words, you can really help on this one.
Call the Capitol Switchboard today at 202-224-2131. Ask for your Senator's office, and leave the following message:
I urge Senator ____ to OPPOSE any amendment to the farm bill that would weaken the ban on meatpacker ownership of livestock or strip it from the bill. I also urge the Senator to OPPOSE Senator Roberts' amendment to strip the provisions in the 2007 Farm Bill that puts an end to sweetheart deals given to giant industrial livestock producers.