The U.S. Senate banned packer ownership of livestock Tuesday, by rejecting an amendment that would’ve called for a nine-month study of the matter in lieu of the ban.

The senators rejected the proposed study by a vote of 53-46. The ban was part of a wide-ranging, $45-billion Farm Bill that is expected to pass the Senate by mid-week. The House version of the Farm Bill, passed last October, holds no similar language relating to packer ownership of livestock. That means the House/Senate joint committee will have to battle out the details in a compromise Farm Bill proposal. It also means there could still be challenges on the issue before a compromise bill goes to the White House.

The ban essentially prohibits beef, pork and lamb packers from owning livestock 14 days prior to marketing. The amendment exempts the poultry industry.

The American Meat Institute officials released a statement saying that AMI is disappointed in the amendment’s passage and that this version does nothing to clarify whether packers could contract with producers for hogs, cattle and sheep.

AMI’s statement goes on to say “If adopted in the final Farm Bill, this amendment would force massive asset divestitures by hundreds of companies, flooding the livestock market and driving down livestock prices. It would jeopardize thousands of contractual arrangements between livestock farmers large and small, and their meatpacking customers. It also would halt the flow of specialized meat products to domestic and international supermarket and restaurant customers.”

However, a series of legal experts disagree that the amendment has that kind of broad-reaching impact. The attorney’s contend that language applies to direct ownership, and does not encompass such things as contract marketing arrangements between producers and packers.

Of course, this kind of room for interpretation could simply mean the issue, if passed, will meet with a series of legal challenges.

Reuters, American Meat Institute