Legislation is being introduced in the U.S. Senate today that would make it illegal for packers to own or feed livestock intended for slaughter. The bill’s author, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, says the legislation will help to level the playing field for smaller livestock producers. Grassley says “Packers that own livestock can use their own animal supplies to strategically pull out of the market when the price is high and jump back in when the price is low. This is a big temptation for packers and an incentive to manipulate prices and (is) very unfair to the family farmer.” Grassley says no packer should have that kind of influence.Grassley says “I understand the need for packers but they’re not the whole pie. They’re only a piece of the pie. This bill will inject into the marketplace competition, access, transparency and, of course, fairness for the family farmers.” Grassley, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, will hold a hearing Wednesday on the Central American Free Trade Agreement, or CAFTA. He says “Iowa farmers need to understand that when we export agricultural products to these countries, that they have very, very high tariffs going into those countries, making it more difficult for us to do that. When there’s products coming from CAFTA countries to the United States, there’s already a very low tariff, so reducing these tariffs then are going to be very helpful to American agriculture by leveling the playing field.” The hearing will address general issues surrounding the trade agreement. Grassley says Central America and the Dominican Republic make up the second-largest U.S. export market in Latin America, behind Mexico and just ahead of Brazil.
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