Despite passage by a significant majority in the Iowa Senate, SF 504, a bill that would have required meatpackers to purchase 25% of the hogs they slaughter in Iowa from independent producers in the cash market, died in a legislative subcommittee. Senate President Jack Kibbie (D-Emmetsburg) introduced the bill in the Senate and urged passage to help preserve market access for independent hog farmers and competition in livestock markets.
However, Representative Delores Mertz (D-Ottosen), the chair of the House Agriculture Committee, named herself to a subcommittee to review the bill seemingly for the purpose of blocking the bill’s passage. And, despite calls to move the bill out of committee by farmers, legislators, rural Iowans, farm organizations and even U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley – who has introduced the same bill in Congress – Representative Mertz kept the bill under her thumb until it died a procedural death.
I have said it before, and I will say it again, if elected officials want to claim that they fight for family farmers then they must mean what they say – and that means supporting competition and fairness in livestock markets. If they will not support competition in livestock markets then they ought not say they stand with family farmers and rural communities.