National livestock groups have come together to support Congressional efforts to expand opportunities for industry to invest in meat packing capacity.
The American Farm Bureau Federation, American Sheep Industry Association, Livestock Marketing Association, National Cattlemen's Beef Association, National Pork Producers Council and United States Cattlemen's Association sent a letter to the Chairpeople and Ranking Members of the Senate and House Agriculture Committees expressing the groups' support of legislation to allow livestock market owners and operators to own or invest in small or regional livestock packing facilities.
The bipartisan legislation, the Expanding Local Meat Processing Act (S. 813), was reintroduced by Sens. Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM) and Joni Ernst (R-IA) last week. This is the Senate companion to the Amplifying Processing of Livestock in the United States (APLUS) Act (H.R.530), being led by U.S. Representatives Mark Alford (R-MO), Jimmy Panetta (D-CA) and Dusty Johnson (R-SD). If enacted, these bills would direct the Secretary of Agriculture to update a regulatory prohibition under the Packers and Stockyards Act which bars livestock auction owners from owning or investing in packers.
"This is an antiquated rule that does not fit with the current, transparent method of selling livestock at an open auction where sellers can view the transaction either in person or by streaming the auction online," the letter states.
The bills would allow for investment in the packing industry at local and regional levels by those active in the livestock marketing business.
"We appreciate our partners, both on Capitol Hill and at fellow livestock groups, fighting for opportunities to enhance participation in livestock packing," said Mark Barnett, LMA President and owner of Kentucky-Tennessee Livestock Market. "Livestock auction markets, like mine, are in the competition business. Allowing livestock auction owners to invest in small and regional packers could enhance competition which equates to needed additional profit for producers who are being squeezed by high inputs and low margins."