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U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., introduced legislation today to end unfair and manipulative meat packer practices. Enzi said money is being taken out of the pocketbooks of hardworking ranchers in Wyoming and across the United States because of off balance policies.

Enzi introduced a bill that would address the problem of captive supply in the livestock industry. The bill would amend the Packers and Stockyards Act to require packers to have a fixed base price in their contracts and to also put contracts up for bid in the open market. Enzi said this would prevent packers from manipulating the base price after the point of sale.

"Our family ranchers are dealing with price discrimination, price manipulation and undue preferences. A firm base price needs to be implemented to ensure an open and transparent market that protects the small ranchers," said Enzi. "The independent spirit of Wyoming ranchers is being chipped away from behind the scenes by price setting and manipulation. Ranchers aren’t asking for a handout. What I’m asking for them is equal treatment so they can feed their family during the next year. The affect on ranchers is not so visible because we have not seen their faces on the nightly news or read their stories in the national newspapers. But the problem is there and a solution is important to Wyoming."

Captive supply refers to livestock that meat packers directly own or control through contracts they issue to purchase the livestock before slaughter.

The legislation also encourages electronic trading that would function much like the stock market where insider trading is prohibited.

Enzi’s bill is co-sponsored by Senators Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, Craig Thomas, R-Wyo., and Kent Conrad, D-N.D. Enzi introduced similar legislation in the 109th Congress.