Opponents catch whiff of bought influence with pig packer bill — Nebraska legislator works for China’s interest again …

Opponents catch whiff of bought influence with pig packer bill


Some state senators are catching flak for accepting greenbacks from backers of a bill to let pork packers own pigs.

The measure, which would eliminate Nebraska’s ban on meatpackers owning their own hogs, is up for debate by lawmakers Thursday morning.

In the meantime, progressive groups including Bold Nebraska are encouraging people to contact senators who accepted campaign money from one major pork producer, Smithfield Foods. They argue the company stands to benefit from the bill and that family farms would suffer.

Smithfield and an affiliated group have contributed thousands of dollars to legislative campaigns in recent years, along with $10,000 to Gov. Pete Ricketts and $25,000 to then-Attorney General Jon Bruning to support their 2014 gubernatorial campaigns.

Supporters of the bill sponsored by Sen. Ken Schilz of Ogallala argue it would help Nebraska’s pork industry grow at a rate comparable to surrounding states that do not prohibit meatpackers from owning hogs.

The measure failed to overcome a legislative filibuster last year but was returned to the agenda this year after Schilz designated it his priority.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7234 or zpluhacek. On Twitter @zachamiLJS.