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KLA President Encourages Producers to Oppose Amendment

MANHATTAN, Kan. -- The president of the Kansas Livestock Association (KLA) encouraged cattle producers Friday to voice their opposition to federal legislation that will ban packer feeding of livestock.

Mike Collinge said the legislation will have "far greater negative implications for you and me, the independent producer, than for packers themselves."

The Johnson-Grassley amendment, contained in the U.S. Senate's Farm Bill proposal, would, with limited exceptions, prohibit pork and beef packers from owning, feeding or controlling livestock intended for slaughter for more than 14 days prior to slaughter.

"On the surface, the combined Johnson-Grassley Amendment looks to stop packers from feeding. In reality, it would stop feeders from participating in the packing business, where additional profit opportunities exist," Collinge said.

Collinge told the producers that the amendment seeks to prohibit alliances initiated by beef producers trying to capture more value for their high-quality cattle.

"Beef producers like yourselves have attempted to coordinate production with the packer through arrangements that have the potential for added reward," Collinge said. "Producers capture more value for the beef they produce by being more closely connected to the consumer through an alliance with a packer."

Producers have "created" such industry innovations through the use of contracts, closed cooperatives, alliances and joint ventures, Collinge said. Those relationships, he added, have been partly responsible for improved consumer demand of beef the last three years.

"But, if the Johnson-Grassley amendment proposal would pass, all of this progress would be reversed," Collinge said.

A study released early this year by several noted U.S. agricultural economists concluded that there is no economic evidence to support buying restrictions on packers.

In early February, Kansas State Research and Extension agricultural economist James Mintert, one of those who participated in the research, said that in 1998 packers owned just 3.5 percent of cattle slaughtered in the United States.

"We're not aware of any published empirical research indicating that packer ownership of cattle has a negative impact on prices," Mintert said.

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