How the National Pork Producers Council addresses the issue of packer ownership could greatly affect what the organization will look like in the future, according to Roy Henry, NPPC board member and producer, Longford, Kan.

“If the proposed ban on packer ownership looks like it could happen and NPPC supports it, that could be a deal-breaker for a lot of the larger companies,” says Henry.

Naturally, vertically integrated companies like Smithfield, Seaboard and Premium Standard Farms would oppose any ban on packer ownership. Considering the millions of dollars these companies could contribute to NPPC’s proposed voluntary membership program, their opinions must be considered.

Henry says the large integrated companies are interested in NPPC’s voluntary membership program, because there is value in being associated with independent producers when lobbying on Capitol Hill. However, Henry says the large companies likely will form their own group to lobby on legislative issues, if a compromise can not be made on the issue of packer ownership.

In addition, the current set-up for NPPC’s proposed membership has half of the money going to a national organization and half to the state organization the hogs were raised in. This has been another sticking point for some large integrators, who don’t want their money going to states that support a packer ban, says Henry.

On the other side of the argument, many producers have strong feelings supporting a ban of packer ownership. This is particularly true in Iowa, where a state law banning packer ownership of livestock is being appealed in the courts.

NPPC remains officially neutral on packer ownership, because as a national organization they must represent their member state associations. Since there is no consensus among the states NPPC is neutral.