Iowa federal judge Robert Pratt has placed a stay on his Jan. 22 ruling striking down a long-standing law forbidding packer ownership of hogs in the state.

Pratt, a District Court judge for the Southern District of Iowa, issued the order in response to a plea from Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation and the Iowa Pork Producers Association (IPPA). Miller filed the appeal in the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Pratt had ruled that Iowa’s ban on packer ownership of livestock was unconstitutional in that it violated interstate commerce.

IPPA leaders at their January annual business meeting voted to require packers that slaughter an average of 100,000 or more hogs to control no more than 60% of their daily slaughter for no more than seven days before slaughter through ownership or captive supply agreements.

That action was aimed at Smithfield Foods, who along with two related hog producers, Murphy Family Farms and Prestage-Stoecker Farms, sued the state after Smithfield acquired Murphy three years ago. Murphy attempted to divest its hog operations by selling them to Prestage-Stoecker. Miller called the transaction a "sham" and attempted to block the sale.