Senator Chuck Grassley Says Large Beef Giant Colony Proves ‘Shenanigans’
Meatpacking giant JBS has agreed to pay a $52.5 million settlement, which U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley says confirms his concerns about limiting supply to drive up prices.
“If there was any doubt about the shenanigans big packers play to line their pockets at the expense of consumers and independent producers, look no further than JBS’s $52.5 million settlement in the pricing litigation,” Grassley said in a statement.
Beef prices have increased more than 20% between 2020 and 2021, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Although the COVID-19 pandemic and general inflation have contributed to higher prices, the United States Department of Agriculture reported that the four largest meat packers, JBS, Tyson Foods, Cargill and National Beef, control up to 85% of the market, according to The White House Fact Sheet. This power allowed them to control market prices and keep competition away.
Wholesale meat distributors and grocery stores have accused the conglomerates of working together since 2015 to create beef shortages to drive up prices, the Associated Press reported.
In a statement, JBS said it would defend itself against future beef price-fixing claims by would-be plaintiffs, according to the AP. Instead, beef processors argued that supply and demand contributed to higher prices.
Colin Woodall, CEO of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), said he found the rule disturbing.
“It is clear from these regulations that cattle producers still do not have all the information they have demanded and deserved,” Woodall said in a statement.
At the same time, beef conglomerates have experienced labor shortages due to the pandemic. Many factories have closed their facilities while many farmers have thrown away perishables and dairy farmers are dumping more than 3.7 million gallons of milk every day, according to CNBC.
In July 2021, Biden issued an executive order to seek violations of the Packers and Stockyards Act of 1921, which regulates fair competition, commerce and safe practices for farmers and ranchers, according to the department. of Agriculture (USDA).
Earlier this year, the White House released a plan to enforce antitrust laws, boosting competition in the meat industry.
“When dominant intermediaries control so much of the supply chain, they can increase their own profits at the expense of both farmers – who earn less – and consumers – who pay more,” the White House said in a statement. a statement.
The Biden administration plans to invest $1 billion from the COVID-19 relief package to help reduce meat prices, invest in independent meat processors, train new industry workers and improve working conditions. job.
A federal reviewed the settlement Thursday and will rule at a later date. Additionally, the USDA and Department of Justice plan to launch a website for farmers and ranchers to report concerns about competitive behavior.