Meatpackers would be barred from owning livestock if a bill that cleared the Iowa Senate’s Ag Committee yesterday becomes law. Democrat Senator Tom Fiegen of Clarence says letting packers own livestock defeats competition in the marketplace. He says they want competitive bidding so they have many buyers and sellers and the marketplace determines a “reasonable price.”Republican Senator Mark Zieman of Postville says the bill’s needed to keep meat prices low. Zieman says it’s a consumer bill, as once the number of processors declines, the price of food could go up.Zieman doubts Smithfield and other packers will follow through on threats and pull their packing plants out of Iowa. He says it’s a possibility, but he says the company has an investment in the plants and he says, “we’ve beenthreatened before.” If the bill becomes law, packers would still be able to loan farmers money to buy and raise livestock on contract. A nationwide ban on packer ownership of livestock is included in the version of the Farm Bill which cleared the U-S Senate last month.