Agribusiness Freedom Foundation  
Home arrow Sentinel e-Newsletter arrow May 2008 arrow Free Market Defense May Yet Win This Battle
Main Menu
About AFF
Latest Op/Ed Release
Sentinel e-Newsletter
Newsletter Signup
Staff Bios
Make A Contribution
Contact Us
Free Market Defense May Yet Win This Battle PDF Print E-mail
Written by Steve Dittmer   
Friday, 02 May 2008
AFF Sentinel Vol.5#21

Latest Conference Committee Action Axes Cattle Ownership Restrictions

The latest actions by the House-Senate Farm Bill Conference Committee appear to have left intact the current freedom livestock producers have to contract, sign marketing agreements and participate in branded programs. When the livestock ownership restriction issue arose in committee discussions, four congressmen and one senator spoke in favor of removing the ban from the bill.

Popularly referred to as the "packer ban," the provision would have prohibited packers from contracting livestock more than 14 days out from slaughter, banned packers from owning livestock and banned cattlemen from owning packers with more than one plant. It would have eliminated or severely restricted many of the beef alliances and branded beef programs innovative cattlemen have used to improve efficiency and give consumers what they want. On a voice vote, the conferees - both Democrat and Republican - soundly voted the ban out of the bill, with the outcome obvious enough that no recorded was even requested.

Earlier work through negotiation and staff had removed the Special Counsel provision, removing the burden of both packers and livestock producers and dealers of complying with a blizzard of investigations from another prosecutorial office.

The House-Senate Farm Bill Conference Committee worked until 1:00 a.m. Thursday night- Friday morning, shaping the remaining titles in the Farm Bill. Only subsidy income caps and payment limits appear to be left for this weekend's work. The conferees feel confident they can have the completed bill on the President's desk by May 16th, the deadline of the last extension passed by the House and Senate this week.

The White House has been mum as to whether the President will sign the bill. What happens with the final shape of income caps and payment limitations will probably be the deciding factor.

Nothing is set in stone until the last vote is taken and the President signs a bill but it appears that the freedom of livestock producers to work with all segments of the meat production chain to best serve the customer has been preserved - for now. Other industries have the freedom to cooperate or compete as they see fit to serve their customer. So should the meat production chain.

This will not be the last of the challenges, of course, as Iowa Senators Harkin and Grassley and Iowa Rep. Boswell all voted for the ban. Much of the proposed language on the ownership and marketing agreement restrictions and special counsel provisions came from separate bills they have sponsored several times. They are not likely to give up and anti-free market groups will not give up. They will likely make attempts separate from the Farm Bill to shackle livestock producers and the rest of the production chain.

For now, if the Farm Bill holds current shape, the producers who supported their associations' free market positions, called and wrote their Senators and Congressmen, who used information like the AFF has disseminated about the implications of the legislation and spread the word - can breathe a little easier and look forward to the next couple of weeks.


We'll have more details and Congressmen and their votes in a later story.

Email your comments to the author


Last Updated ( Thursday, 03 July 2008 )
< Previous   Next >
designed by