DES MOINES, Iowa (Legal Newsline) - Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller announced on Wednesday that he has obtained a consent degree with a hog production facility company.
United States District Court Judge Robert W. Pratt approved the consent decree, which was jointly submitted by the state of Iowa and Christensen Farms Midwest LLC.
Christensen, based in Sleepy Eye, Minn., owns and operates hog production facilities throughout Iowa and the rest of the midwest. The consent decree sets out settlement terms reached between the state and Christensen Farms Midwest that resolves a dispute over the constitutionality of Iowa's prohibitions against processors vertically integrating into pork production in Iowa.
"This agreement protects the rights and interests of Iowa's contract producers working with Christensen Farms Midwest, and at the same time allows the company to continue doing business here in Iowa," Miller said.
Christensen wants to increase the capacity of its pork processing and expand its hog contracting business. Iowa law, however, prohibits a processor from directly or indirectly operating, financing or controlling a swine operation within the state or contracting with Iowa producers for the feeding and care of swine in the state. The formal agreement, which also institutes contract grower rights, addresses the legal concerns held by the state.
"We had concerns about fairness to contract growers, and this consent decree addresses our unease," Miller said. "This agreement allows Christensen to expand in a way that protects contract growers, and it gives them both a voice and enforcement tools, if needed."
In return for Christensen's compliance with commitments under the settlement, the state of Iowa will not pursue enforcement for the ban on packer involvement in swine production in respect to Christensen. The consent decree expires on September 16, 2015.