In a letter to U.S. Attorney General William Barr on Thursday, U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama, and three other senators called for an investigation into price-fixing in the cattle market in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lawmakers wrote that the Federal government must act on this issue soon or “America’s cow calf operators, as well as small and medium-size feeders, will go out of business while multi-national corporations continue to reap record profits.”
“The profit discrepancies between packers and independent ranchers is egregious, and merits a long-overdue antitrust investigation into the consolidated meat packing industry,” Jones and his colleagues wrote.
“Evidence of price fixing is now even clearer as the nation reacts to the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet again, as the demand for beef increases nationwide, live cattle futures are sinking,” the letter continues. “We are hearing from ranchers that it is not feasible to sell their cattle at such low futures and still hope to break even. In a time when Americans are consuming more beef than ever before, it is confounding that ranchers are struggling, while meat packers take home record profits…The nation’s food supply chain is an issue of national security.”
Jones was joined in the letter by Senators Jon Tester, D-Mont., Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Jeff Merkley, D-Ore.