R-CALF Congratulates Nebraskans Who Stopped Chinese-Controlled Industrial Hog Farms in Nebraska

R-CALF Congratulates Nebraskans Who Stopped Chinese-Controlled Industrial Hog Farms in Nebraska

Billings, Mont. – Yesterday, the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature defeated a measure that would have allowed Chinese-owned Smithfield Farms, the largest industrialized pork packer and hog producer in the United States, along with other foreign and domestic multinational corporations, to begin owning, controlling and feeding hogs in corporate-controlled contract hog operations in Nebraska.

"We applaud and congratulate Nebraska’s Senators who helped defeat LB 176 (Nebraska Legislative Bill 176)," said R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard adding, "And we particularly want to thank and congratulate the Nebraska Farmers Union, Center for Rural Affairs, Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska, Nebraska Women Involved in Farm Economics, and Nebraska Grange whose members worked tirelessly to send e-mails and phone calls to their state senators to urge them to support Nebraska’s independent family farmers and ranchers."

Nebraska’s longstanding Competitive Livestock Markets Act, which may be one of the last, if not the last, effective anti-corporate farming laws in the nation, prohibits meatpackers from owning, controlling or feeding livestock for more than five days prior to slaughter.

R-CALF USA sent a letter to Nebraska Senators in February urging them to defeat LB 176. The letter stated that LB 176 would result in a loss of marketing outlets for independent livestock producers, forcing them to "either produce livestock under the command-and-control regime of the meatpackers or exit their industry."

Bullard said this is a huge victory for every U.S. citizen who wants a safe and secure food supply.

"Our family farm and ranch system of livestock production, or at least what is left of it, has been proven the world over as the absolute best system for ensuring safe food and a secure food supply," he said.

But, Bullard warns, the competitive marketplace needed to sustain independent livestock producers is evaporating fast.

Before yesterday’s coalition victory led by the Nebraska Farmers Union and the Center for Rural Affairs to preserve marketplace competition in Nebraska, the last major governmental effort to preserve what is left of the U.S. livestock industry’s fast-shrinking competitive marketplace occurred in 2008. That was the year the U.S. Department of Justice initiated antitrust enforcement action to block the world’s largest meatpacker, Brazilian-owned JBS, from purchasing the nation’s fourth largest meatpacker, National Beef Packing Company.

Since then and continuing through today, the Department of Justice’s and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) enforcement engines were placed on idle and Brazilian-owned JBS was allowed to purchase the United States’ largest cattle feeding company, Five Rivers Cattle Feeding, LLC; the United States’ fifth largest beef packer, Smithfield Beef Group; the United States’ largest poultry integrator, Pilgrim’s Pride; as well as additional and large U.S. cattle feeding companies. Also, the United States’ largest hog producer and pork packer, Smithfield Farms was allowed to be sold to Shuanghui International, a Chinese firm controlled in whole or in part by communist China.

As a result of the Department of Justice’s and the USDA’s failure to stop the corporate takeover of marketplace competition for independent livestock producers, the volume of livestock still sold in the competitive marketplace has declined drastically.

USDA data show that fed cattle sold in the competitive marketplace that are not already controlled by corporate meatpackers has fallen to only 21% nationally and to only 1.5% in the Texas-Oklahoma-New Mexico fed cattle market.

"It’s even worse for hogs," said Bullard adding, "The last information we’ve received indicates that only about 3% of all the nation’s hogs are still sold in the competitive cash market, and the rest are under the control of meatpackers."

Bullard said that Nebraska’s continuing restriction against the corporate takeover of its livestock markets is the model the entire nation should be following.

"And, yesterday’s success by the coalition of like-minded Nebraska organizations should be an incentive to independent producers to begin working again to force the U.S. Department of Justice and the USDA to once again begin protecting our competitive marketplace," he concluded.

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R-CALF USA (Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America) is the largest producer-only cattle trade association in the United States. It is a national, nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring the continued profitability and viability of the U.S. cattle industry. For more information, visit www.r-calfusa.com or, call 406-252-2516.