Dozens of Iowa pork producers who raise pigs for Prestage/Stoecker Farms rallied at the statehouse yesterday. The group opposes a bill that’s cleared the Senate which tightens the ban on meatpackers owning livestock. Prestage/Stoecker is owned by two men who get their financing from meatpacker Smithfield Foods, but the courts have said that is a legal way to maneuver around the ban. Keith Zylstra of Sibley is a third-generation family farmer who wants to continue his financial arrangement with Prestage/Stoecker. He says he entered into a contract to stabilize his operation and stay on his family farm.Zylstra says 260 Iowa farmers are raising hogs owned by Prestage/Stoecker, and many of them were at the statehouse yesterday. He says they’re defending their position as independent growers, as he says the legislation will ultimately impact them as contract-growers.Missy Bice of Woodward started raising hogs for Murphy Family Farms, which was sold to Smithfield, then transferred to Prestage/Stoecker. She says if the company is run out of Iowa then they lose hogs, and she says they gain 14-million bushels of corn and 85-million tons of soybeans that won’t be eaten by the hogs. She says that would drive corn and bean prices lower.But Senate Republican Leader Stewart Iverson of Dows says the legislature wants to ensure meatpackers don’t own livestock from birth to slaughter — a situation that would let powerful packers dramatically raise the price of meat. Congress is considering a nationwide ban on packer ownership of livestock.
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