A last-minute filibuster cannot stop a measure that lifts the ban on meatpackers owning hogs in Nebraska from passing in the legislature.
LB 176 clears the Unicameral easily on a 34-to-14 vote.
But, not until supporters overcame a rare, final-reading filibuster against the bill. Opponents of the measure held up the vote for two hours until supporters called for a cloture vote and, by the same 34-14 margin, ended the filibuster.
Sen. Jerry Johnson of Wahoo told colleagues during legislative floor debate packer ownership will not lead to the end of the independent hog producer.
“In Iowa, a state without a ban, an average of 60%, depending on the plants, of the hogs slaughtered are purchased from independent pork producers,” Johnson stated. “It’s still alive in Iowa even though that’s the one we’ve been compared to.”
The sponsor of the measure, Sen. Ken Schilz of Ogallala, insisted that the state’s ban on packer ownership, the last in the country, keeps Nebraska hog production from growing.
“Last one of 49, folks. Things don’t usually move the other way,” Schilz said. “Quit worrying about trying to legislate nostalgia and let’s understand what 21st agriculture is and how we can adapt and be successful in the new world.”
A few rural lawmakers in the Unicameral were not convinced.
Sen. Lydia Brasch of Bancroft urged colleagues to consider their vote carefully.
“Because this is a game changer and this is not a game. This is very serious,” Brasch said, alluding to other comments by opponents that it would end independent hog production in Nebraska, shifting to corporate hog production.
Sen. Kate Sullivan of Cedar Rapids dismissed claims that lifting the ban will help young farmers and improve the rural economy.
“What I do know for sure in LB 176 is that preference and the emphasis totally is given for the benefit of the packer,” Sullivan said. “That’s who wants this legislation. That’s who wants to control more of the market and, thereby, controlling the profit.”
The filibuster failed, clearing the way for the approval of the bill.