Bill to allow meatpacker ownership of hogs is dead in Nebraska!


Below are four articles and links from the legislative defeat of LB176 yesterday in the Nebraska Legislature. Yesterday, it was an historic day for the Nebraska Legislature, in more ways than one.

The Legislature overrode the Governor’s veto of the elimination of the Nebraska death penalty with 30 votes, and they also failed to move forward on LB176 that would have repealed our current statutory ban on pork processor direct ownership of hogs.

All the best,

John K. Hansen, President

Nebraska Farmers Union

1305 Plum Street, Lincoln, NE 68502

402-476-8815 Office 402-476-8859 Fax

402-476-8608 Home 402-580-8815 Cell



May 28, 2015

Hog packer bill fails to overcome filibuster


A push to eliminate Nebraska’s ban on meatpackers owning their own hogs failed to overcome a filibuster in the Legislature on Wednesday, meaning it won’t return to lawmakers’ agenda this year.

Opponents have decried the measure (LB176) — backed by the world’s largest pork producer, Smithfield Foods — as a boost to corporate agriculture that would have hurt family farms and cut into local ownership of hog operations.

Now, meatpackers in Nebraska must buy their pigs and cattle from independent producers.

Surrounding states have moved away from similar bans on hog ownership as the pork market has evolved.

"We don’t live in a vacuum," said Sen. Ken Schilz of Ogallala, the bill’s sponsor. "This isn’t just about Nebraska. … In the end, no matter what we do here today, that trend is not going to stop."

Supporters have argued eliminating Nebraska’s ban would help it compete with neighboring states that have seen their market shares increase.

Others wanted to retain the open market, saying it benefits smaller operations.

They mounted a filibuster for the second straight day, this time managing to flip a few urban senators who voted for cloture Tuesday.

On Wednesday, a motion for cloture failed 31-11. It needed support from 33 senators to succeed.

Sen. Al Davis, a rancher from Hyannis, said he opposes repealing the ban but would be open to discussing amendments.

However, he said, "I’m not sure that the support will even be there next year."


Bill to allow meatpacker ownership of hogs is dead after bid to end filibuster falls short by 2 votes

By Paul Hammel / World-Herald Bureau | Posted: Wednesday, May 27, 2015 9:37 pm

LINCOLN — One day after sailing to first-round approval, a bill to allow meatpacker ownership of hogs hit the skids on Wednesday.

Supporters of the bill fell two votes short of halting a filibuster, thus killing Legislative Bill 176.

The bill ran into a wall of opposition from some rural senators who said it would be the death of the small, independent hog producer and would allow the nation’s largest meatpackers to dictate the price paid for pork.

They also warned that it could lead to the eventual “chickenization” of Nebraska’s hog industry, and could eventually spread and lead to the end of the independent cattle producer.

“Chickenization” refers to how chickens have been raised for years. Large corporations own the animals, the barns and the land, as well as the processing facilities. Workers are employees, not “farmers” in the traditional sense of the word.

On Tuesday, lawmakers had halted an eight-hour filibuster of LB 176 on a 34-9 vote, and then gave the bill first-round approval. But on Wednesday, the vote to half the filibuster collected only 31 votes, two short of what’s needed.

State Sen. Ken Schilz of Ogallala, the chief sponsor of LB 176, blamed “scare tactics” for sticking a fork into his pork proposal.

He said that the days of the small farming operation are over and that to jump-start pork production in Nebraska required lifting a 16-year-old ban on meatpackers owning the animals, as his bill would have done.

“Don’t be afraid of change, folks,” Schilz said.

Omaha Sen. Beau McCoy, who grew up on a farm near Benkelman and was one of the filibuster leaders, said it was a victory for the small, family pork producer.

“The more we talked about this issue, the most concerned folks got,” McCoy said.

Schilz had argued that LB 176 was an effort to find a middle ground on the issue of corporate ownership and that allowing packers to own the hogs and contract with a grower could bring young people back to rural areas.

He said he feared that a lawsuit could force Nebraska to allow packer ownership of cattle and not just pork.

The senator said he planned to introduce a similar bill next year.

Contact the writer: 402-473-9584, paul.hammel


Nebraska’s packer ownership ban survives repeal attempt

Posted May 28, 2015 by Ken Anderson

An attempt to repeal Nebraska’s ban on meatpacker ownership of hogs is dead for this session.

The bill had received first round approval, but a filibuster on Wednesday prevented it from advancing to a second-round vote.

Nebraska Farmers Union president John Hansen applauded the legislature’s action–or, in this case, inaction.

“The impact of LB176 would be to structurally, economically, environmentally and socially change how we produce hogs in Nebraska,” Hansen says.

AUDIO: John Hansen

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During debate on the bill, Senator Kate Sullivan of Cedar Rapids said allowing meat packers to own hogs and contract with Nebraska producers would not be a positive move.

“I would suggest to you that this bill makes those producers nothing more than serfs,” Sullivan said.

But Senator John Stinner of Gering argued that agriculture has evolved since the packer hog feeding ban was instituted in 1998.

“I will tell you that the family farm has now morphed into thousands of acres of production, technology has been incorporated throughout their organizations, and many times these family farms and farms have now morphed into trucking organizations, cattle feeding, hog production, and so on,” Stinner stated. “So, they are looking for ways to continue to diversify, continue to expand, and continue to build.”

Nebraska Farm Bureau president Steve Nelson was disappointed that the bill failed to advance.

“We know there are great opportunities to expand livestock in Nebraska and this is just another option for farmers and ranchers to use to expand livestock in their operation. It might be a way to bring a young person back into the operation,” Nelson says.

AUDIO: Steve Nelson

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NTV News

Bill to Allow Packer-Owned Hogs in Nebraska Defeated

Posted: May 27, 2015 2:45 PM

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — An effort to lift Nebraska’s ban on hogs owned by meatpackers has failed to advance in the Legislature.

Supporters fell two votes short Wednesday of the support they needed to break a filibuster on a second-round vote. Opponents argued that the ban protects small and independent producers.

Opponents say the bill would allow major corporations, such as the Chinese-owned Smithfield Foods, to squeeze out small and independent farmers and control the supply chain. They pointed to the poultry industry, where consolidations have given a handful of processors substantial leverage over producers because of their market dominance.

Sen. Ken Schilz of Ogallala says the bill would have kept the hog industry growing as fast as in neighboring states that have outpaced Nebraska.

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