State legislators are crafting a law to ensure meatpackers are banned from owning livestock or loaning money to livestock producers. Senate Republican Leader Stewart Iverson of Dows says some states have changed their laws to allow vertical integrations, but he says that’s the wrong way for agriculture to go.Iowa law already prohibits packers from owning feedlots. But Smithfield Farms, a meatpacker, got around the ban by loaning money to a third party, which purchased Murphy Family Farms’ Iowa hog lots. Iverson says that’s dangerous.Iverson says if packers own great numbers of livestock, they can control the price rather than letting supply and demand forces work.Senator Mark Zieman of Postville says packer-ownership of livestock would drive independent pork producers out of business.Senator Jerry Behn of Boone says the feds aren’t really doing much to crack down on monopolies. He says it’s entirely appropriate for the state to take some action.
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