Nebraska Livestock Bills Are Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing

The corporate attempt to take over family farm agriculture in Nebraska is back. Three separate bills being debated in the Unicameral, LB 176, 175 and 106, are nothing short of a corporate-driven assault on family farmers and rural communities.

LB 176 would lift Nebraska’s ban on packer ownership for hogs, so long as they do so under contract production. Increasing packer ownership of hogs relegates smaller, family farm producers to the role of residual suppliers, taking lower prices or even lesser contracts at virtually every turn.

Meatpackers want to own hogs because that’s where the profit is. 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.

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 sharing contract details with their attorney or even their elected members of Congress or the Unicameral.

LB 106 would eliminate county zoning for livestock facilities and replace it with a statewide matrix. Decision making on a statewide basis will fail to consider unique local interests and needs. If they are to be considered, local officials and local people must do so. LB 106 is simply another vehicle to increasingly concentrate livestock production and sacrifice our rural environment.

LB 175 would provide grants to counties that are “livestock friendly” to help them plan and update infrastructure to facilitate large-scale livestock development.

When you put these three bills together you get the corporate takeover of family-farm agriculture and rural communities. First, allow packers to own the hogs. Second, make sure they can put large-scale livestock buildings wherever they choose without meaningful local citizen input. Third, let the government subsidize large-scale livestock infrastructure development.

These three bills are wolves in sheep’s clothing.