Final Thoughts on LB176 From Five Nebraska Farm and Rural Organization Leaders
A shared view: It is their shared view that LB176 will damage the functioning of the hog market, turn hog producers into economic serfs on their own farms, and will undermine the remaining beef packer ban and make it more vulnerable to legal challenge.
“Like most people in this part of the state, our family makes its living from raising cattle. Our beef industry helps power our state’s economy. We wonder whether the Legislature realizes that our state’s beef producers and feedlots are taking a terrible financial beating today. Finished cattle are losing their owners $300 to $600 per head. Cow calf producers are being squeezed by rising property taxes and sinking prices for their calves. Meanwhile the meat retailers and packers are doing great at the expense of meat producers. Unfortunately, the Legislature is going to bat for the pork processors at the expense of the pork producers while also putting the entire beef industry in our state at risk with the passage of LB176. Instead of gutting our state’s Competitive Livestock Markets Act and turning our Nebraska hog industry over to Smithfield and their Chinese owners, they should be strengthening it. We need more competition, not less.”
Pam Potthoff, President of Women Involved in Farm Economics of Nebraska
“In his testimony on LB 942, the predecessor to LB176, Senator Schilz admits that he fed packer-owner cattle and he praises the benefits he gained from this agreement. It is clear that if the legislature lifts the ban on hogs the Attorney General and the courts will lift the ban on cattle.
Furthermore Senator Schilz states in his LB942 testimony that the packers were able to pay more for the cattle which they brought to his feed yard. If we apply this logic to LB176 the question becomes, what incentive is there for the packers to bid competitively for hogs, let alone even bid? The same question will apply to the cattle market if the legislature continues to weaken the Competitive Livestock Markets Act. WHY BID?”
Dave Wright, Neligh, President of the Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska
“The Grange has always fought for all family farm ag producers. In our opinion, if LB 176 passes, the cattle producers of Nebraska will be placed squarely in the legal crosshairs of the beef packers who want to muscle in on the cattle feeding industry in this state. When that happens, based on the experience of neighboring states, Nebraska’s cash cattle market prices won’t be the strong economic engine it has nearly always been, anymore, and our family farm producers and feedlots will pay the price. LB 176 is nothing more than a green light for more Corporate Agriculture and another nail in the coffin of the independent family farmer, rancher, and feedlot.” Kevin Cooksley, Berwyn, President of the Nebraska State Grange.
“By striking the full legislative intent, while leaving parts of the law on the books, the remaining ban on packer ownership of cattle would be left with no intent expressed in law. If the ban on cattle ownership is later drawn into court, we worry this move will weaken the case for independent cattle producers.”
Traci Bruckner, Wayne, Assistant Director, Rural Policy Program Center for Rural Affairs
“LB176 supporters do not support healthy hog markets. LB176 opponents want to make our markets work better because healthy ag markets produce opportunity and reward hard work and risk with profit. Rather, they want to replace an entire marketing system with a one-sided vertically integrated pork processor controlled contracting system similar to one used in the poultry sector. Broiler production no longer has a cash market. Growers compete with one another to see how low they will go to grow the packer’s livestock. It is a race to the economic bottom of the barrel. Profit centers along with Nebraska’s pork will be exported from rural communities.”
John Hansen, President of Nebraska Farmers Union.