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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Jeremy Russell
February 12, 2002 Communications Manager
OAKLAND, CA – The United States Senate today voted 53-to-46 to keep the ban on packer ownership of livestock in place. The Senate refused to strike down the amendment offered by Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD) and replace it with an amendment calling for a congressional study into packer ownership, despite the fact that the study suggestions came straight out of last week’s National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) convention in Denver. However, Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) did offer additional language to the Johnson amendment to clarify that the ban would not interfere with forward contracts and marketing agreements.
NMA is strongly opposed to a ban on packer ownership of livestock, even if there is an exemption for the smallest packers. Such an exemption is merely a device by proponents to divide the packer community. Indeed, if the ban adopted today is enacted as part of the final Farm Bill, it is likely to wreak havoc in requiring divestiture of livestock and undermining the stability of the livestock market.
“Artificial government management of the free market system is bad public policy,” said Executive Director Rosemary Mucklow. “Such control mechanisms substitute election year politics for sound economic policy, which is necessary to produce a safe and abundant food supply.”
NMA hopes that the conferees ultimately charged to address differences between the House version of the Farm bill passed last fall and the Senate version (in debate now) will make sound decisions consistent with good agricultural policy and free market/free enterprise principles.
National Meat Association is a non-profit trade association representing meat packers and processors, as well as equipment manufacturers and suppliers who provide services to the meat industry. The association, with over 600 members throughout the United States, includes membership in Canada, Australia and Mexico.