SDFU pleased with reintroduction of packer ownership ban
May 11, 2016
S.D. Farmers Union Supports Sen. Grassley's Reintroduction of Legislation Banning Packer Ownership of Livestock
HURON, S.D. – South Dakota Farmers Union President, Doug Sombke joins with National Farmers Union (NFU) organization in commending U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) for reintroducing legislation to ban packer ownership of livestock.
"Sen. Grassley has always been recognized by Farmers Union for his continued support of family farmers and ranchers," said Sombke, a fourth-generation Conde crop and livestock farmer. "This is an issue which directly impacts South Dakota farmers and ranchers who raise livestock."
Sombke explains that because there are so few packers today, packer ownership of livestock can manipulate the livestock markets, reducing demand and driving prices down. He adds that this is not a new issue. In fact, packer ownership of livestock is the issue which motivated Sombke to become more involved in the grassroots organization 30-plus years ago.
“The livestock market today is heavily concentrated among a handful of conglomerates, and our family farmers and ranchers are forced to compete in an increasingly uneven playing field in the marketplace. I applaud Senator Grassley for championing this important piece of legislation that places the family farmer first.” National Farmers Union
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"We were losing our buyers right and left. There was a time when my dad was feeding cattle, and he would have 10 to 11 buyers stop by his feed yard each week. By the late 1980s, when I was in the business, we couldn't get three to stop by," explained Sombke, who today farms with his three sons.
He added that ending the manipulation of markets by corporations is what motivated the founders of Farmers Union to unify more than a century ago. "This is an issue Farmers Union has been involved with since the beginning. We are a grassroots organization who provides a voice to family farmers and ranchers throughout our state and nation to support their wellbeing. I am encouraged to see Senator Grassley still putting up the fight and encourage South Dakotans to contact our representatives in Washington to encourage them to support him as well."
NFU Statement in support of Grassley
A staunch advocate for more competition in agriculture, National Farmers Union (NFU) released the following statement commending U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) for reintroducing legislation to ban packer ownership of livestock:
"The livestock market today is heavily concentrated among a handful of conglomerates, and our family farmers and ranchers are forced to compete in an increasingly uneven playing field in the marketplace. I applaud Senator Grassley for championing this important piece of legislation that places the family farmer first.
"Recent mergers and acquisitions – such as the mergers of JBS USA and Cargill pork divisions or Tyson Foods and Hillshire Brands – have only advanced the concentration in the packing industry. When you concentrate livestock ownership among a few multinational firms, competition in the livestock sector is severely reduced and there's a strong potential for market price manipulation. In addition, consumers are experiencing increased food costs at the grocery store while the family farmer is receiving pennies of every dollar spent on food.
"NFU will continue to advocate for opportunities to increase competition for our family farmers and ranchers, and we look forward to working with the Senator to move this legislation forward."
–National Farmers Union