Agribusiness
Banning Packer Ownership of Livestock Bill Introduced PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Grassley Press   
Wednesday, 07 March 2012 08:54

Grassley Works to Ban Packer Ownership of Livestock

 

WASHINGTON – Senator Chuck Grassley today said he’s introducing his bill that would make it unlawful for a packer to own or feed livestock intended for slaughter.

“The 2012 farm bill is a great opportunity to deal with vertical integration before it’s too late.  The ag concentration forums provided a real opportunity to make progress, but unfortunately the administration failed to follow through on any of the grass roots input and we’re still at square one.” Grassley said.  “Outlawing packer ownership of livestock would make sure the marketplace works for the farmer just as much as it does for the slaughterhouse.”

Grassley’s Packer Ban excludes single pack entities and packers that are too small to participate in the Mandatory Price Reporting program.  The bill also exempts farmer cooperatives where the members own, feed, or control the livestock themselves.

Grassley said that the CEO of a major slaughter house once told a group of farmers:  You wonder why we own livestock?  Well, we own livestock so that when prices are high we can kill our own and when prices are low we can buy from the farmer.

“This statement shows their intent and unfairness to the family farmer,” Grassley said.  “Vertical integration leaves the independent producer with even fewer choices of who to buy from and sell to.  And, it hurts the ability of farmers to get a fair price for their products.”

Here is a copy of the statement Grassley entered into the Congressional Record upon introduction.

 

Prepared Floor Statement of Senator Chuck Grassley

Introduction of the Packer Ban

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

 

Mr. President, today I am introducing legislation designed to help family farmers across this nation have a more level playing field when it comes to livestock markets.  The bill would prohibit meat packers from owning livestock.  The ownership of livestock by packers compromises the marketplace and hinders the ability of the farmer to receive a fair price.  It is simple, as one meat-packing executive once told me, packers own livestock so that when prices are high, they slaughter their own livestock.  When prices are low, they buy from farmers.

 

I would love to say opportunities for independent producers have gotten better since the last time we debated this bill during the 2008 Farm Bill.  But that simply isn't the case.  We are to the point where most farmers have to deliver their livestock to one of a few very large packers.  Farmers’ bargaining power is diminished by the sheer size and economic position of the packers.  But beyond that, farmers have to compete with the livestock owned by the packing plant itself.  The packer ban would make sure the forces of the marketplace work for the benefit of the farmer as much as it does for the slaughterhouse.

 

I’m sure there will be folks in the packing industry that point out that farmers are doing okay right now, and that's great that farmers are experiencing a good period.  I am pleased anytime the hard work of livestock farmers results in a good price.  But I don't want my colleagues here in the Senate to be lulled to sleep and think just because prices are good right now means we don’t have competition issues in the livestock industry that need to be addressed.  This is about ensuring farmers are able to get fair prices for years to come.  We need to work today, and implement this reform, to ensure the next generation of independent farmers has an opportunity to raise livestock and receive fair prices as a result of their hard work.

 

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Soy Checkoff Farmer-Directors Reshape USB for the Future PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Erin Hamm   
Wednesday, 07 March 2012 08:50
Farmer-Directors Approve Plan to Address Issues Most Critical to U.S. Soybean FarmersST. LOUIS (February 29, 2012) – With their eyes fixed on the future, the farmer-directors of the United Soybean Board (USB) have decided to design the organization around the four issues most critical to U.S. soybean farmers: adding value to soy oil and meal; protecting U.S. soy farmers’ freedom to operate, and focusing on the needs of the customers of U.S. soy.

While USB has always focused on these challenges and opportunities, farmer-leaders sharpened that focus at their winter meeting Feb. 20-24 by approving a plan to reshape the national soy checkoff into four Action Teams dedicated to realizing the four strategic objectives of USB’s Long Range Strategic Plan.

“Adding value to the oil and meal of U.S. soy, protecting our freedom to operate, and focusing on meeting the needs of our customers have always been important for the U.S. soy sector,” said Vanessa Kummer, a soybean farmer from Colfax, N.D., and USB chair. “But today’s market for U.S. soy – and tomorrow’s – mean they are more important than ever in order to maximize the profit opportunities for all U.S. soy farmers.”

USB developed the plan after a complete review of the national soy checkoff that farmer-leaders commissioned in 2011, the year USB marked its 20th anniversary. Farmer-leaders ordered the review to ensure USB is best positioned to meet the needs of the evolving U.S. soy sector in a changing global marketplace.

“Our world is changing fast, and my fellow farmer-directors are dedicated to making sure all U.S. soybean farmers have the opportunity to maximize their profits for generations to come,” Kummer said. “The changes approved this week are exciting because they help ensure the national soy checkoff continues to deliver what USB’s motto says: ‘Progress Powered by U.S. Soy Farmers.’”


USB is made up of 69 farmer-directors who oversee the investments of the soybean checkoff on behalf of all U.S. soybean farmers. Checkoff funds are invested in the areas of animal utilization, human utilization, industrial utilization, industry relations, market access and supply. As stipulated in the Soybean Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service has oversight responsibilities for USB and the soybean checkoff.

For more information on the United Soybean Board, visit www.unitedsoybean.org
Visit us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/UnitedSoybeanBoard
Follow us on Twitter: www.twitter.com/unitedsoy
View our YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/user/UnitedSoybeanBoard

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The Humane Society of the United States Urges Governor to Veto “Ag Gag” Bill PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Anna West   
Wednesday, 07 March 2012 08:48

HF 589 Criminalizes Investigations of Animal Cruelty and Other Serious Crimes at Factory Farms

(February 29, 2012) -- The Humane Society of the United States urged Gov. Terry Branstad to veto notorious Iowa “ag gag” bill, HF 589, that would criminalize the investigation of animal cruelty, worker abuse, sexual harassment and other serious crimes at farming operations.

“The intent of this bill is simple: shield animal agribusiness from public scrutiny by punishing whistleblowers and protecting animal abusers,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States in a letter urging Gov. Branstad to reject the bill. “By signing this bill into law, animal agribusiness will have unbridled and unchecked power over worker safety, public health and animal welfare.”

On Tuesday, the Iowa state legislature rushed the bill through both the Senate and House of Representatives at a speed rarely found in the legislative process. Normally, deliberations of such consequence take weeks, or at least several days.

Critics question the constitutionality of HF 589 as an infringement on the First Amendment, and a broad spectrum of national interest groups have spoken out against state ag gag bills, including organizations for animal protection, civil liberties, public health, food safety, environmental, food justice, legal, workers’ rights and First Amendment interests.

Undercover investigations in Iowa over the past three years have consistently revealed alarming conditions on factory farms, causing a public backlash and demands for higher standards on farms.

Undercover investigations have also played a vital role on the national level in exposing animal welfare and food safety issues related to industrialized agriculture. In 2008, an HSUS undercover investigation of a slaughter plant in Chino, Calif. resulted in the largest meat recall in the nation’s history. The meat suppliers faced a $150 million lawsuit for sending meat from sick and injured animals to the federal school lunch program and the investigation revealed horrific animal abuse.

 

Facts

  • Last year, special interests in four states succeeded in having ag gag bills introduced. None passed.
  • A similar bill was defeated in Florida in January 2012, but other ag gag bills remain active in Utah, Nebraska, Minnesota, Missouri, Illinois, New York and Indiana.

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IOWA FARM BUREAU SUPPORTS REVISED HF 589 TO PROTECT INTEGRITY AND SAFETY OF FAMILY FARMS PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Laurie Johns   
Tuesday, 06 March 2012 08:12

WEST DES MOINES, IOWA – February 28, 2012 – Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) members are pleased to see Iowa lawmakers show support for Iowa’s family farmers and securing our food supply by passing the Agricultural Production Facility Fraud bill.  The bipartisan Senate version of House File 589 would make it a crime for individuals to fraudulently gain access to a farm with the intent to cause harm.

“It’s about misrepresentation of character,” said IFBF President and Milo livestock farmer Craig Hill. “In a post 9/11 world, transparency is important for farmers and consumers alike. Responsible farmers take good care of their land and livestock and want to employ honest, hardworking people that have the welfare of their livestock as their top priority,” said Hill.

The revised HF 589 creates new penalties for those who make false statements to gain access to a farm, or misrepresent themselves on an employment application to hide their intended misconduct or purpose.  The person who commits an offense would be charged with a serious misdemeanor on the first conviction and an aggravated misdemeanor on the second. It also penalizes organizations or persons who aid or abet someone who misrepresented facts to gain access to a crop or livestock farm.

“In order to raise and grow the healthiest animals and crops possible for the safest food possible, we need to be assured that hired workers and others entering our farms act ethically and responsibly,” Hill said. “With that transparency comes trust that everyone working with our livestock also believes in the compassionate care of our animals; responsible Iowa livestock farmers don’t tolerate bad actors who turn a blind eye on generations of established veterinary animal care standards; in fact, we think they should be removed immediately from animal care, if they really have the animal’s best interests in mind,” said Hill.

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About Iowa Farm Bureau

The Iowa Farm Bureau Federation is a grassroots, statewide organization dedicated to enhancing the People, Progress and Pride of Iowa.  More than 153,000 families in Iowa are Farm Bureau members, working together to achieve farm and rural prosperity.  For more information about Farm Bureau and agriculture, visit the online Newsroom page at www.iowafarmbureau.com.

 
New Website Allows U.S. Grains Council to Share More Information, Market Data PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Marri Carrow   
Tuesday, 06 March 2012 08:09

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 28, 2012 —  The U.S. Grains Council, which develops export markets for U.S. barley, corn, sorghum and related products, has launched a significantly enhanced website at grains.org.

The website, a component of the Council’s branding and communications initiative, presents the latest news and data relating to the U.S. and global grain trade. The site includes charts that present current FOB reference prices and market spreads for several commodities at port, as well as top U.S. export customers and additional information that is helpful for foreign buyers and those monitoring grain markets and exports.

“The U.S. Grains Council gathers a significant amount of information every week, and this new website helps us present that information to members and interested parties in a more timely and more organized fashion,” said Don Fast, USGC vice chairman and barley farmer from Glasgow, Mont. “We also highlight key issues and policy positions taken by the Council to make it clear what the Council and its members believe —  that open, liberalized trade of all goods and services is vital to the prosperity of the world economy.”

Included on the site are details from each of the Council’s 10 foreign offices, as well as a market overview, supply and demand information and market growth potential for more than 25 countries.

News and information is integrated throughout the site and our new Word from the Ground post offers a place for our professional staff and consultants to provide additional insight on pressing issues on a daily basis,” said Fast.

A new members-only area will debut later this year. The My USGC member center, formally known as The GRAIN Center, will allow members to renew membership, update information, register for events and download members-only documents from the Council’s extensive resource library.

For more information, contact Marri Carrow, USGC manager of communications, at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 202-789-0789.

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The U.S. Grains Council is a private, non-profit partnership of farmers and agribusinesses committed to building and expanding international markets for U.S. barley, corn, grain sorghum and their products. The Council is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and has 10 international offices that oversee programs in more than 50 countries. Financial support from our private industry members, including state checkoffs, agribusinesses, state entities and others, triggers federal matching funds from the USDA resulting in a combined program value of more than $28.3 million.

 
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