Radio Iowa - Wednesday, March 21, 2007
By Stella Shaffer, Radio Iowa
...editor's note, I am posting this because this crucial legislation is stuck in the Iowa House Agriculture Committe. In order for farmers, independent producers and contract growers alike, to be treated fairly in the livestock marketplace, there must be an open (spot or cash) market with real competition where multiple buyers bid for hogs and, thereby, establish a competitive price. Livestock market competition is important to farmers, yes, but also to the rural communities in which they live. Competitive markets would also help forestall the environmental, economic and social catastrophe that awaits us as a result of consolidation and industrialization of hog production. Please contact your state Representative's and urge them to support SF 504, the 25% spot market bill (see below for additional contact information).
Meatpackers will have to purchase more of their hogs from independent family farmers under legislation approved by the Iowa Senate on Tuesday afternoon. Big meatpackers now buy many of their hogs on contract from farmers, and lock in the price without a sale at auction. The bill requires them to purchase at least 25-percent of their hogs from independent farmers.
Senator Jack Kibbie, a Democrat from Emmetsburg, urged the Senate to pass the bill. "I would ask the senate to think again about casting a vote for the small independent pork producers of this state, the ones that keep our fairs alive, our 4-H and our future farmers."
Kibbie said the market for independent hog producers has almost disappeared. He describes signs at packers' unloading docks that say "contract hogs only." Kibbie says we must provide a market for the independent producer. Supporters argued consumers would get a better price on meat if fewer hogs were produced on contract for the big packing companies.
Critics said you can't turn back the clock on Iowa agriculture. The drive to curtail packer ownership of livestock on the farm stems in part from the discovery that so few animals are sold at public auction these days that the open-market price is hard to determine. This bill puts into effect an agreement Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller worked out with meatpackers Smithfield, Cargill, and Hormel -- and extends the agreement to Tyson Foods as well.
...editor's note, the House switchboard number is 515-281-3221 and members of the agriculture committee are listed below, along with members of the subcommittee where the 25% spot market bill is being held up.
Dolores Mertz (D, District 8), Chair and subcommittee chair
John Whitaker (D, District 90), Vice Chair and subcommittee member
Jack Drake (R, District 57), Ranking Member
Mark Davitt (D, District 74)
Betty De Boef (R, District 76)
Cecil Dolecheck (R, District 96)
Marcella Frevert (D, District 7)
Elesha Gayman (D, District 84)
Sandy Greiner (R, District 89), subcommittee member
Dan Huseman (R, District 53)
Mark Kuhn (D, District 14)
Helen Miller (D, District 49)
Steven Olson (R, District 83)
Dawn Pettengill (D, District 39)
Henry Rayhons (R, District 11)
Mike Reasoner (D, District 95)
Nathan Reichert (D, District 80), subcommittee member
Doug Struyk (R, District 99) , subcommittee member
Kurt Swaim (D, District 94)
Andrew Wenthe (D, District 18)
Gary Worthan (R, District 52)