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Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., introduced legislation recently targeting unfair and manipulative meat packer practices that take money out of the pocketbooks of hardworking ranchers in Wyoming and across the United States.

Enzi introduced S. 960 today, 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 livestock producers 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.

“Requiring a firm base price in an open and transparent market ends the potential for price discrimination, price manipulation and undue preferences,” said Enzi. “The independent spirit of Wyoming ranchers is being slowly worn away from behind the scenes by price setting and manipulation. The affected livelihood of 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. Rancher’s aren’t asking for a handout, they’re asking for equal treatment so they can feed their family during the next year. This bill is moving in the right direction to an even playing field.”

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

Enzi’s bill would also limit the size of the contracts to 40 cattle or 30 swine. Enzi said the more animals you have in the contract, the less likely it is that people can freely participate in the bidding process.
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., Tim Johnson, D-S.D., and Craig Thomas, R-Wyo.

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