The Iowa Farmers Union is pushing for a bill in the legislature this year the group says would make sure the explosion in renewable energy products and markets has a real benefit for farmers. Leigh Adcock, education director with the Farmers Union, says farmers should “have a piece of the pie.” It’s really a hot issue for a lot of groups, she says, as there a lot of different ways renewable energy can be produced and also ways it can be owned and structured.
The group wants good access for local ownership of everything from bio-fuels to wind and solar energy. “We want to make sure that farmers and rural residents have the ability to produce those kinds of energy on their own in small projects, and still have a market for it. Another priority for the Farmers Union is a bill that would make it mandatory for meatpackers to buy at least 25-percent of their daily “kill” on the open market.
She says it would about double the number of independently-produced hogs those packers buy. Adcock says it would open up the market a lot for independent producers, and should keep prices for both those independents and the contract producers more stable as well as higher.
While contracts with farmers, also called packer ownership of livestock on the farm, can give some security to farmers who promise to deliver pigs once they’re born and raised, critics charge that bypasses public livestock auction markets, obscuring the prices paid and holding the livestock prices down. The Farmers Union held a legislative day this week to take those concerns to lawmakers at the statehouse in Des Moines.