Sen. Grassley reintroduced bill to ban packers from owning livestock

Farm and Food

By John Crabtree, former staff member

Recently Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), reintroduced legislation - S. 2911 - that would make it unlawful for a meatpacking company to own, feed, or control livestock intended for slaughter.
According to the National Farmers Union, livestock ownership among a few multinational firms restricts competition, puts farmers and ranchers on an uneven playing field, and increases the chances of market price manipulation. Both the National Farmers Union and the Center for Rural Affairs have long supported passage of legislation to ban packer ownership of livestock and other related livestock market reforms.
As I’ve said before, the meatpacking industry always responds to reform legislation or any discussion of reforming livestock markets the same way. They want to control the marketplace; they don’t care about how farmers and ranchers are treated; and they don’t want anyone holding them accountable or forcing them to operate in a fair, equitable, competitive marketplace.
Barry Carpenter, President and CEO of the North American Meat Institute, claims that packers must own and feed their own cattle to maintain an effective marketplace. Bill Bullard, CEO of the ranchers’ organization R-CALF USA, calls those claims baseless, deceptive and self-serving.
I’m with Bill.
The packers and their sycophants at the National Pork Producers Council can whine all they want. Competitive markets are the foundation of America’s economy. Family farmers and ranchers asking for a level playing field where farmers and ranchers, not the packers, own the livestock, is a request that is not only eminently reasonable, but long overdue.