August 2, 2001

Rep. Berkowitz Says Livestock Marketing Law Will Be Fixed

First District Representative Sam Berkowitz, D-Memphis, has announced that Governor Bob Holden will add a revision to the state's livestock marketing law to the issues to be considered during the September special session of the Missouri Legislature.

The issue to be considered is the revision of a livestock marketing law passed in 1999, Berkowitz said. The purpose of the 1999 law was to level the playing field for small livestock producers by making meat processors pay uniform prices for livestock. But because of the vague language of the law, several major meat processors announced their decision to stop buying Missouri livestock on the cash market.

As a result, many Missouri livestock producers saw a prime market for their products disappear virtually overnight - a situation that could prove catastrophic for many Missouri farmers, said Berkowitz.

"The family farmer provides the base for the economy in many northeast Missouri communities, and it is important that these operations get the best price possible for their products," said Berkowitz. "By addressing this issue during the special session in September, I believe we can craft a fair and equitable revision of the existing livestock bill that will prevent price discrimination against small producers, and at the same time maintain a viable market for Missouri livestock."

The proposed legislation is similar to an amendment introduced on the last day of the 2001 legislative session and mirrors the language of the federal Packers and Stockyards Act, which determines unfair trade practices and price discrimination violations. The bill authorizes the state Department of Agriculture to order administrative hearings on price discrimination violations or refer cases to the Missouri Attorney General's office.

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