In a vote for family farms and fair play, the United States Senate voted today to prohibit corporate meatpackers from owning or feeding livestock. Calls, faxes, and visits from thousands of family farm livestock producers across the country, organized by the Campaign for Family Farms (CFF) and its allies, prevented opponents, including some of the most powerful corporations in the country, from stripping the packer ban from the Senate Farm Bill.
"Cargill, Smithfield Foods, and their allies at the National Pork Producers Council found out that democracy still counts in our land," said Minnesota hog farmer and Land Stewardship Project member Monica Kahout. Kahout, who farms with her family near Olivia, is a spokesperson for the CFF. "Farmers and concerned citizens have taken a stand - there are limits to what the corporations can take and control in America."
Intense lobbying in Washington by major corporate meatpackers and commodity groups failed to overturn the U.S. Senate's vote in December, which passed the ban on packer ownership by a vote of 51-46. Today's vote, which was taken to table an amendment by Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa, which supported the packer ban, reinforced the provision in the Senate bill by a 53-46 vote.
"This means the Senate will go into conference committee with an extremely strong position favoring the packer ban," said Rhonda Perry, Missouri hog farmer and a member of the Missouri Rural Crisis Center and CFF spokesperson. "Not only did they vote twice, with an even stronger majority the second time, but they were clearly responding to the will of the people. The U.S. House needs to take notice - the people want a ban on packer ownership of livestock.
A major concern was the move in recent years by pork packers such as Smithfield, Cargill, Tyson, and Hormel to obtain direct ownership of livestock, and raise them in huge livestock facilities, or factory farms. Hog farmers organized by the Campaign for Family Farms rejected the NPPC's defense of corporate ownership of livestock, and called, wrote, faxed or visited their Senators to make clear the need for the packer ban.
"This vote draws a line in the sand: no more will corporate agribusiness think that they can run roughshod over family farmers without a real fight," said Perry. Today Congress took an important step towards genuinely preserving a family farm system of agriculture for generations of Americans to come.
The Campaign for Family Farms is a coalition of the following family farm organizations: The Land Stewardship Project (Minnesota), Missouri Rural Crisis Center, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, and the Illinois Stewardship Alliance.
|Published in In Motion Magazine, February 12, 2002
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