Unicameral votes for Meatpackers over Family Farmers and Ranchers

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Traci Bruckner, tracib@cfra.org or (402) 687-2103 ext. 1016 or (402) 833-5488
or John Crabtree, johnc@cfra.org or (402) 687-2103 ext. 1010 or (563) 581-2867

Lincoln, NE -  Today, the Nebraska Unicameral voted for final passage of LB 176, legislation introduced by Senator Ken Schilz in 2015 that will rescind Nebraska’s statute prohibiting meatpacking corporations from owning hogs prior to slaughter. The bill will now be sent to the Governor for his consideration.

Debate over the bill was halted when 34 Senators voted in favor of invoking cloture and ending debate. The bill was passed on final reading by a vote of 34 to 14. Senators Davis, Bloomfield, Schnoor, Sullivan, Groene, Chambers, Brasch, Bolz, Cook, Crawford, Hansen, Howard, Morfeld, and Ken Haar stood in opposition to final passage of LB 176.

“In a world where packers own all the livestock, what place is there for farmers and ranchers?”
Traci Bruckner, Center for Rural Affairs

“I am unable to describe how disappointing this vote is to me, and to the independent, family farm and ranch livestock producers that I know and have worked with. Corporate money spoke out on this issue and too many Senators listened,” said Traci Bruckner, Senior Policy Advocate with the Center for Rural Affairs. “Meatpackers want to own hogs because that’s where the profit is. They’d rather someone else did all the work of raising the pigs, stood all the risk, and debt-financed the buildings.”
“Arguments by proponents that the bill was needed for reasons of constitutionality, increasing hog production or complaints about the messages they received from constituents and organizations in opposition to LB 176 were little more than sleight-of-hand, excuses for taking what will be the unpopular position of voting against family farmers and ranchers, arguments that were completely unfounded,” Bruckner continued.
This bill was a legislative solution in search of a problem, and make no mistake, this was about the bottom-line of meatpacking corporations. This bill offers nothing to family farmers and ranchers, creates no opportunities. In fact, it does the opposite, it slams the door in the face of farmers and ranchers, especially young farmers trying to get started in livestock production, and instead offers them the chance to become virtual serfs to meatpacking companies, added Bruckner.
Bruckner applauded the determined efforts of a core group of Senators that stood in opposition to the meatpacking corporations.
“Senator Davis, Senator Bloomfield, Senator Schnoor, Senator Sullivan, Senator Groene, Senator Chambers, and Senator Ken Haar… these Senators had the courage to stand up for farmers, ranchers and small town Nebraska. And they were heroic in their efforts. Senator Davis, in particular, was a true champion for rural Nebraska and the family farms and ranches that are the backbone of our rural economy,” Bruckner continued.
“This legislation is not about helping family farmers, it is not about jobs, nor rebuilding communities. If consolidation and vertical integration created jobs and healthy communities, rural Nebraska would be a paradise today. But in truth, this bill will result in fewer farmers, declining rural population and shrinking small town economic opportunities,” said Traci Bruckner, Senior Policy Advocate for the Center for Rural Affairs. “We believe in a bright future for rural Nebraska, with vibrant small towns surrounded by thriving family farms and ranches. But advancing the cynical vision of LB 176 will only serve to make achieving that future that much more difficult.”

“Sadly, as bad as this bill is for current and future hog farmers, the matter is made even worse because, in our opinion, this starts the clock ticking for a time when proponents of this legislation will seek to repeal the prohibition on packers owning cattle as well. Maybe it will be a year, or five years, before that happens but the handwriting is on the wall now,” Bruckner concluded.

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