I read with interest the letter to the editor in the April 29 issue by the president of the Illinois Pork Producers Association that the proposed new GIPSA Farmer Fair Practice Rules would be bad for farmers.
He stated, “Doing so would create uncertainty for meat packing companies, which likely would take action to avoid that risk by owning and raising more of their own animals.” He assumes that packers would want to own more of their kill rather than less if their contractors had more equality.
Packers do not own hog buildings; contract growers do. The new GIPSA rules are the most beneficial to contract growers, as they would receive more legal protection and fairer contracts from the packers. However, farmers raising their own hogs would also benefit.
It is very hard for a contract grower to stand against a packer. Most contractors have debt on their buildings and the only way the debt is paid off is if they are furnished hogs or birds by the packer or processor.
At present the hog contractors are a little better off than poultry contractors, as vertical integration in the pork industry is not as far along as poultry.
Either way, why would farmers want meat packing companies to own any of their animals?
It should be the function of the packing companies to slaughter animals and the farmers to own and produce them. That is the way it was in the past when most of a farmer’s income came from marketing corn through livestock.