Even though a federal judge ruled that Iowa’s ban on packer ownership of livestock was unconstitutional, he’s allowing the ban to continue while the state appeals the decision.

The U.S. District Court in Iowa last week granted a temporary stay on the ban after the state said it would appeal the court's ruling, says Bob Brammer, spokesman for the state attorney general's office.

Under Iowa law, out-of-state processors were prohibited from utilizing swine operations in the state. Supporters say this was necessary to protect small independent farmers from their much larger counterparts.

In response, Smithfield Foods filed a lawsuit in June challenging the state law. Iowa is the country's largest pork producer with a current herd of about 15 million head.

The issue of packer ownership of livestock has graduated to the national level. Last month, four Senators reintroduced bipartisan legislation to ban the practice.