SDFU president calls on leadership to look into price fixing


Source: South Dakota Farmers Union

Mar 17, 2020


HURON — After March 13 saw a dramatic drop in cattle prices at Ft. Pierre Livestock Market, South Dakota Farmers Union president Doug Sombke called on leadership in a letter to investigate the possibility of price fixing among the nation’s four meat packers.


“I’m asking you on behalf of all our cattle producers in South Dakota whom you represent, to get answers from the Justice Department and USDA’s GIPSA to why laws already on the books are not being enforced,” Sombke’s letter reads.


Addressed to Governor Kristi Noem and our state’s Congressional leaders, Sen. John Thune, Sen. Mike Rounds and Rep. Dusty Johnson, Sombke hopes they can influence stricter enforcement of anti-trust laws to aid the hemorrhaging cattle market prices.


“Finished cattle selling for $521 per head – that is a loss of about $900 per head. We thought it was bad in December when, after expenses, finishers only received $70 per head. But to lose $900, this situation is dire,” Sombke says.


Feeders lose $900. Packers bring in $136.79 per head.


Sombke’s complete letter is below:


Honorable U.S Senators John Thune and Mike Rounds and U.S Representative Dusty Johnson and Governor Kristi Noem,


I’m sure you are aware of the dire situation our family farmers and ranchers are facing due to oversupply and undervalued farm-gate prices over the past several years. The recent slump to the NYSE has added even more distress. I don’t need to tell you things are not getting any better with the recent national emergency due to coronavirus.


However, this last week I have visited numerous members of our 19,000 SDFU membership, and I want to pass on to you what I think summarizes the visits I had with cattle producers.


This week’s report from Ft. Pierre Livestock says it all: