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U.S. court says ban on testing for mad cow disease is off, a good ruling for consumers and a good reminder for rural entrepreneurs

The federal court ruling that has overturned the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s ban on testing for mad cow disease is welcome relief from a bad idea. The ban was based not only on bad law, but bad economics.

In a bizarre twist of the law, USDA argued its authority to protect human health empowered it to prevent Kansas meatpacker Creekstone Farms Premium Beef from testing cattle for mad cow. Creekstone was testing to gain access to foreign markets that closed after mad cow was found in the U.S.

It appears the ban was aimed less at protecting public health than at protecting big meatpackers. Big packers did not want to compete with an upstart firm that was more responsive to their consumers.

Rural Indiana’s Approach to Community Development

Seven pillars and a novel attitude comprise Indiana’s rural development philosophy, the Rural Indiana Strategy for Excellence

In community development, many approaches make sense. It is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. The best rural community development sparks creative and innovative ways to bring rural people together for a common goal. Indiana is no exception.

The state has created what is known as the Rural Indiana Strategy for Excellence, or RISE. This is a 15-year plan that was created in July 2005. It is now being implemented as RISE 2020. The Indiana Rural Development Council, using the pillar approach, has created an inclusive and sensible framework that will lay a foundation for development.

Congress Must Act to Define Fair Livestock Market Competition

In many rural places where livestock are raised there are only a few, or even just one, packer or processor for a given livestock species. Currently, over 80 percent of hogs are either owned outright by packers or tightly controlled through various contracting devices. Many farmers and ranchers face price discrimination and severely limited market access as a result.

The audit of the Packers and Stockyards Administration performed by U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of the Inspector General and released in February 2006 revealed that the agency has utterly failed to enforce the very law that gives it a reason to exist.

Corporate Farming Regulations Enter New Phase with I-300 Decision

The refusal of the U.S. Supreme Court to hear an appeal of the district court ruling overturning Initiative 300 – Nebraska’s anti-corporate farm law – may end one era. But it signals the start of a new phase of state efforts to regulate corporate farming and level the playing field for family farms.

The recent string of court rulings overturning the Iowa, South Dakota, and Nebraska corporate farm laws does not prevent state regulation of corporate farming. Corporate farm restrictions can be tough and still meet the principles laid down by the court.

CORPORATE FARMING NOTES

Iowa bill requiring meatpackers to buy from independent producers killed in subcommittee; telling Congress about vertical integration

>> Despite passage by a significant majority in the Iowa Senate, SF 504, a bill that would have required meatpackers to purchase 25 percent of the hogs they slaughter in Iowa from independent producers, died in a legislative subcommittee.

Representative Delores Mertz (D-Ottosen), chair of the House Agriculture Committee, named herself to a subcommittee to review the bill, seemingly for the purpose of blocking its passage.

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