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Ernst Leads Effort to Cut Red Tape on Regulations Hindering Livestock Auctions, Small Packers

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, is leading an effort to reduce regulatory red-tape to enable livestock auction market owners to invest in small meat packing operations.

Currently, livestock auction markets are not able to own, invest in, manage, or operate a packing plant or meat marketing business due to a Packers and Stockyards Act regulation. This bill, titled the Expanding Local Meat Processing Act, amends the Packers and Stockyards Act to remove this unnecessary barrier on the livestock industry.

“It should be a no-brainer to cut bureaucratic red-tape, eliminate outdated regulations that are hindering the livestock industry, and increase processing capacity,” said Senator Ernst. “Allowing livestock auction owners to invest in local and regional meat packers will expedite the safe processing of meat, increase competition within the industry, and, ultimately, lower meat costs for consumers.”

The legislation is supported by a number of outside national and local agriculture groups, including the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association, Livestock Marketing Association, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, and U.S. Cattlemen’s Association.

"The Iowa Cattlemen's Association appreciates Sen. Ernst's commitment to support Iowa's beef cattle producers," said Bob Noble, president of the Iowa Cattlemen's Association. "Daily slaughter capacity in Iowa falls short of our fed cattle production. We recognize the value of livestock auction markets in our supply chain, representing the interests of both sellers and buyers. Updating the Packers and Stockyards Act to allow for their participation in the small and regional processing sector may facilitate a more competitive marketplace outside of the Big Four."

“Livestock auction owners drive competition and should be able to push our industry forward with more competition and capacity in the packing sector,” said Jon Schaben owner of Dunlap Livestock Auction. “We appreciate Senator Ernst leading the charge to allow for more investment in new local and regional packing capacity.”

"The basic construct of the stockyard model is a tired, old throwback to a time when large companies tried to control hard working family farms,” said Chad Tentinger, Principal Developer at Cattlemen's Heritage Beef Company and 4th generation Iowa cattleman. “Sale barns are more efficient, local family enterprises that work in tandem with family farms for the mutual benefit of each other and growing Iowa's agricultural foundation."

Read the full bill text here.