Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley plans to introduce legislation today he says would help secure a place for independent pork producers by placing new limits on larger factory-style farms. Grassley says his bill would set a ceiling on so-called vertical integration in the pork industry. Grassley says the “bill would make it unlawful for any packer with an annual slaughter capacity of more than 20-million head of hogs to slaughter more than ten-million packer-owned swine in any calendar year.” He says Congress must sustain a place in the market for independent producers to “limit the cancerous growth of vertical integration until we can pass a cure.” The Republican says “The pork industry is at a critical juncture due to the impending sale of Farmland’s pork division. Either we stop the trend towards vertical integration or we prepare for the inevitable ‘chickenization’ of the pork industry.” Iowa legislators passed a ban on packer ownership of livestock which Grassley says is still tied up in court on appeals, while similar legislation in South Dakota was found unconstitutional. Grassley says, “So what we’re doing is, what a state can’t do, the federal government can do under its power to regulate interstate commerce.” On a related topic, Grassley is chairing a hearing of the Senate Finance Committee today that will address Mexican trade barriers to U.S. agricultural products.Grassley says he won’t sit by while NAFTA is dismantled step by step. Four Iowans are scheduled to testify at the hearing: U.S. Trade Representative Al Johnson, originally from Scott County, Ron Litterer of Greene, Michael Jorgenson of Keokuk, the immediate past chairman of the Corn Refiners Association, and Jon Caspers of Swaledale.
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