Federal legislation aimed at keeping independent farmers and ranchers competitive by preventing large meatpacking firms from raising livestock has drawn criticism from some in the industry who say the proposed restrictions are unnecessary.

The bill, cosponsored by Sens. Tim Johnson, (D-SD), along with Charles Grassley, (R-IA), Kent Conrad, (D-ND), and Tom Harkin, (D-IA), would prohibit large meatpacking companies from owning livestock for more than seven days prior to slaughter.

The bill's sponsors hope the legislation would prevent meatpackers from raising their own livestock, flooding the market and driving down prices for independent producers.

“This bipartisan legislation will keep our farmers and ranchers in the fold and ensure they get a fair price for their product,” Johnson said in a written statement earlier this month.

But South Dakota Cattlemen's Association First Vice President Cory Eich, of Canova, opposes Johnson's bill because he does not think it would help independent ranchers compete. Still, he is concerned about the structure of the packing industry.

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See another viewpoint from Cow-Calf Weekly Editor Troy Marshall here.