Corporate Farming: Another David vs. Goliath Tale

Last February, the Agriculture Committee of the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature heard public testimony on LB 942. This bill would repeal the prohibition on meatpacker ownership of hogs in Nebraska.

The hearing lasted well into the evening, with opponents outnumbering proponents nearly 10 to one. The Center for Rural Affairs, Nebraska Farmers Union, Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska, and approximately 50 family farmers, ranchers, and small town Nebraskans appeared to voice opposition to the bill.

Among the scores of people testifying in opposition was Sam Bruckner, 13 year old 4-H member and a hopeful beginning farmer from Wayne, Nebraska. Sam’s mother, Traci Bruckner, is also the Senior Associate for Agriculture and Conservation Policy here at the Center. Traci delivered our organizational testimony.

That was not, however, enough for Sam. He prepared his own testimony. He sat patiently through testimony from proponents. And right after then-Center Board President Jim Knopik finished testifying, Sam stepped up to the table and delivered some of the most compelling testimony of the day. Here’s an excerpt:

“I am not too young to understand that packers don’t care about my future or the future of my rural community. They don’t care if we have a strong 4-H program based on independent family livestock producers that helps kids like me chart a future in agriculture. They don’t care if I stay rooted in my rural community or if I go off to college and never return. They simply care about maximizing their profits.”

Sam drew a line of distinction between his views and those of the packers and commodity groups who cynically seek to take advantage of the despair they perceive in farming, ranching, and in small town America. He talked about hope, opportunity, and a bright future that should be reflected in public policy.

Thanks to Sam and a strong cadre of testifiers that day, LB 942 remains mired in committee.

“And David put his hand in his bag, and took out a stone, and slung it, and smote the Philistine in his forehead ...” 1 Samuel 17:49