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Wyoming Ranchers See Real Beef in Farm Bill

October 29, 2007

Cheyenne, WY – Insider trading and price-fixing may be illegal on Wall Street, but these types of practices abound in livestock markets, according to Wyoming family ranchers who say the market manipulation is literally running some of them out of business.

The version of the new U.S. Farm Bill just approved by the Senate Agriculture Committee takes those issues seriously, by limiting meatpacking company ownership of livestock. John Francis, spokesman for the Independent Cattlemen of Wyoming says the limits will make the market freer and more fair.

"This is so that they can't cause market manipulation by glutting the market themselves."

Wyoming Senator Mike Enzi (R) also plans to introduce the "Captive Supply Reform Act" (S1017), an amendment to the Farm Bill to further guarantee that market prices aren't fixed by big meatpackers. Francis says it would mean prices have to be set in contracts, instead of being kept flexible -- and secret.

"The packers have been able to manipulate the market so that, when they have a lot of cattle coming in under contract, they can actually drive the markets down."

Francis cites a U.S. Department of Agriculture study that concludes livestock producers nationwide lost more than $5 billion last year because packers controlled markets. The nation' biggest meatpacking companies warn that changing business practices to open up these markets may result in higher prices for consumers.


Deborah Smith/John Robinson, Public News Service - WY