Washington, DC – US Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD) has cosponsored bipartisan legislation that will allow independent farmers and ranchers to stay competitive with large meat packers. There has long been concern that when meat packers are able to own the livestock they slaughter, they are able to suppress the price and reduce competition for livestock raised by producers. This bill, commonly referred to as the packer ban, would prohibit the large meat packers from owning livestock for more than seven days prior to slaughter.
“Consolidation in the livestock industry has hurt our independent farmers and ranchers. It is time for Congress to act to give them the ability to better compete in the marketplace,” says Johnson. “This bipartisan legislation will keep our farmers and ranchers in the fold and ensure they get a fair price for their product.”
Johnson has long since fought for even-handed competition in the livestock industry. Last year Johnson cosponsored the Livestock Marketing Fairness Act to put farmers and ranchers on equal footing with packer-owned herds and ensure that they have full access to the marketplace.
In 2002, he also proposed an amendment to the Farm Bill to modify the Packers and Stockyards Act to ban packers from owning, feeding, or controlling livestock for more than 14 days prior to slaughter. The provision was included in the Senate-passed versions of the 2002 and 2008 Farm Bills but was taken out during conference negotiations.
There are several reasonable exemptions in the bill, including: arrangements entered into within 7 days before slaughter of the livestock by a packer; exemption of cooperatives that are owned by livestock producers; an exemption of small packing firms that are not required to comply with mandatory price reporting regulations; and an exemption of packers that own only one processing facility.
Johnson cosponsored this bill with Senators Charles Grassley (R-IA), Kent Conrad (D-ND) and Tom Harkin (D-IA).