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Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., backed legislation that would give ranchers a better opportunity to make a living from a fair beef market by limiting packer ownership of livestock.

Enzi, a co-sponsor of S. 818, said the bill would ensure that small and large producers would have market access because it would be unlawful for a packer to own, feed, or control livestock seven business days before slaughter.

“This legislation is intended to even the playing field between the large, concentrated meatpakcers and the small and medium sized producers,” said Enzi. “If meatpackers can manipulate the market by padding their supply it happens to the detriment of the small producers and ads to the problems of captive supply. Limiting packer ownership helps ranchers have more options when dealing with the larger problem of captive supply.”

The bill would exempt from the ban packing operations owned by cooperatives whose members are livestock producers and provide livestock to the operation, as well as small packers that only own one plant or process less than 100,000 hogs or 125,000 head of cattle per year.

Enzi has worked to include packer ban language in past legislation and has asked the Administration to look into the affect of meat packer practices on market concentration and independent cattle producers. Introduction of this legislation is a continuation of his efforts to provide a fair beef market for Wyoming ranchers

The legislation has been referred to the Senate Agriculture Committee for consideration and is sponsored by Senator Charles Grassley, R-Iowa and co-sponsored by Sens. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., Mark Dayton, D-Minn., Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, Tim Johnson, D-S.D. and John Thune, R-S.D.