A bill introduced in the Unicameral, LB 176, would remove restriction on meatpacking corporations owning hogs, as long as the hogs they own are raised by contract growers and not the company.
Although efforts to open the door to packers owning hogs last year were met with stern opposition from family farmers and ranchers, the Center for Rural Affairs, Nebraska Farmers Union and a host of rural and small town Nebraskans, a hauntingly similar bill - LB 176 - has emerged again this year.
The minor differences in LB 176 from last year do nothing to address the legitimate and considerable concerns expressed by the opposition last year. Raising hogs that meatpackers own under a production contract does not help.
Contract growers across the country, raising hogs and poultry, are treated as little more than serfs by transnational meatpacking corporations. Contract growers in Nebraska will also see their contracts cancelled at the company’s whim, for so-called “violations” as mundane as joining an association to represent their interests or sharing contract details with their attorney or even their elected members of Congress or the Unicameral.
Meatpackers want to own hogs because that’s where the profit is, and they’d much rather someone else stood all the risk, did all the work, and debt-financed the buildings. The production contracts they offer are as one-sided as imaginable.
In a world where packers own all the hogs and cattle, what need is there for farmers and ranchers? Enough is enough, Nebraskans should reject LB 176.
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