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Agriculture Subcommittee Holds Field Hearing to Review Proposals to Ban Packer Ownership of Livestock: Subcommittee Chairman Hayes Says ‘This Field Hearing Allows Us to Hear From Folks Who Would be Directly Impacted by Such Proposals’

Subcommittee Chairman Hayes Says ‘This Field Hearing Allows Us to Hear From Folks Who Would be Directly Impacted by Such Proposals’

GRAND ISLAND, NEBRASKA: Congressman Robin Hayes, Chairman of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock and Horticulture, convened his first hearing today to review proposals to ban the ownership of livestock by packers.

The field hearing was held at Hornady-Marshall Auditorium in Grand Island, Nebraska, and featured two panels of witnesses, with discussion centering around the effect such a ban would have on producers.

In his opening statement Chairman Hayes said, “I think it is important for all of us to appreciate that there is a variation of views nationwide about the effects a ban on packer ownership would have on producers. And, it is this lack of consensus that makes the debate about this proposal so difficult.”

The 2002 farm bill encourages Congress to hold hearings on this issue. Additionally, Congress provided $4.5 million for the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) to conduct a study regarding a ban on packer ownership.

“In convening this hearing, and taking time to listen to folks who would be directly impacted by such proposals, we are honoring the intent of the Farm Bill, and we have begun a helpful dialogue.”

The first panel featured Mr. Korley Sears, Owner/Manager, Ainsworth Feedyard, Ainsworth, Nebraska, Mr. Jeff Rudolph, Manager, HiGain Feedlot, Cozad, Nebraska, Mr. Marcus Harward, cattle producer, Richfield, North Carolina, Mr. Dave Hansen, pork producer, Hartington, Nebraska and Mr. Robert Kornegay, pork producer, Mt. Olive, North Carolina.

In his testimony before the committee, Mr. Jeff Rudolph said, "Nebraska Cattlemen would suggest that prior to any additional legislative efforts, at the state or federal level, the GIPSA study should be completed and its findings reviewed in order to provide guidance to elected officials."

In his prepared testimony, Mr. Dave Hansen cautioned, "When discussing a situation that will have a major impact on an entire industry, we need to be sure to base any decisions on sound facts and not on emotional considerations."

The second panel included Mr. Ken Bull, Vice President for Cattle Procurement, Excel Corporation, Wichita, Kansas, Mr. Timothy A. Seely, President and Chief Operating Officer, Smithfield Packing Company and Gwaltney of Smithfield, LTD, Smithfield, Virginia, Mr. Tim Schiefelbein, Director of Live Beef Procurement, Swift & Company, Greeley, Colorado and Mr. Gary R. Machan, Vice President Hog Procurement, Tyson Foods, Inc., Dakota Dunes, South Dakota.