Sponsors Needed for Legislation to Enhance Fair Livestock Markets

A small group of bipartisan senators has introduced legislation to ban packer ownership of livestock – other supporters are needed

The 2007 Farm Bill debate is well underway, with bills being introduced and senators and representatives beginning to define their positions. We are working to ensure those positions include strong support for small and mid-size farmers and ranchers.

When it comes to the issue of ensuring fair and equitable markets for small and mid-size family farmers and ranchers who raise livestock, there are some real leaders in the Senate who have introduced important legislation.

On January 16, 2007, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), joined by Senators Michael Enzi (R-WY), Byron Dorgan (D-ND), Tom Harkin (D-IA), and Claire McCaskill (D-MO) introduced S. 305, a measure that would make it unlawful for packers to own, feed, or control livestock.

On February 15, 2007, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) introduced the “Competitive and Fair Agricultural Markets Act,” which seeks to create better enforcement mechanisms through USDA for livestock markets as well as protections for those using production contracts for agricultural commodities. Joining Senator Harkin on this bill are Senators Mike Enzi (R-WY), Craig Thomas (R-WY), Byron Dorgan (D-ND), Russ Feingold (D-WI), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), and Max Baucus (D-MT).

These senators should be applauded. They not only say they will fight for family farmers and ranchers, they have proved as good as their word by offering legislation to increase competitiveness in livestock markets and ban packers from owning livestock.

Several other senators and representatives say they support small and mid-size family farmers and ranchers. We have yet to see a leader emerge on these issues in the House of Representatives. And where are the other senators who proclaim support for the small and mid-size family farmer and rancher?

Your guess is as good as ours, and it is imperative that they hear from their constituents on these issues. Tell them you want them to take a real stand for small and mid-size family farmers and ranchers. Tell them they should support a federal ban on packer ownership of livestock and a comprehensive competition title in the farm bill.

Contact: Traci Bruckner, by phone at 402.687.2103 x 1016, or by email at tracib@cfra.org for more information.

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