The Nebraska legislature has passed a bill that would eliminate the state’s longstanding law that forbids meatpacking corporations from owning pigs. The law had been in place since the late 1990s.
The measure, known as LB176, passed by a 34-14 vote. It was first proposed during the 2015 legislative session by Sen Ken Schilz, Ogallala. Schilz said at the time repealing the ban on packer-owned pigs was a good idea, because some bordering states like South Dakota and Iowa allow company-owned pigs, which he believed puts the state at an economic disadvantage.
However, the bill also had its opponents, like Nebraska Farmers Union (NFU) President John Hansen, who says that the majority of consumers would rather buy food from animals raised by other families that farm instead of from animals raised by corporations.
“As usual, the view of a majority of the folks back home and the citizens who weighed in on this issue was trumped by the power of corporate money and the lobby”, said Hansen. “This was a basic fight about the future.”
The Center for Rural Affairs had also opposed LB176 and urged legislators to vote against it.
Sen. Paul Schumacher, Columbus, was one of the lawmakers voting in favor of the change. He told the Columbus Telegram that he felt the state will now have a stronger hog industry. “LB176 will produce more pork, more jobs and more grain consumption than we have now,” he said.