In this file:
· DOJ silent after calls to investigate price fixing among meat packing companies
· Calls mount for DOJ investigation into ‘price fixing’ in Texas beef industry
DOJ silent after calls to investigate price fixing among meat packing companies
by AJ Capuano, KTVO (MO)
May 14th 2020
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Calls to investigate alleged 'anti-competitive' practices within livestock markets grow louder, the U.S. Department of Justice remains silent as to whether they are looking into the issue.
A bipartisan group of 19 U.S. Senators now join attorneys general from Missouri, Iowa, and other ranching states, as well as ranchers’ advocates, in calling for investigations into claims that a handful of meat packing companies are "squeezing" ranchers when the companies purchase livestock from them.
Multiple letters asking for investigations into global meat processing companies--namely, Smithfield, Tyson, JBS, and Cargill-- have hit U.S. Attorney General William Barr's desk recently. They claim that this handful of companies is forcing American ranchers to sell for less, even as the price of "boxed" meat products rises, and profit outlooks remain rosy for the giants.
"Any kind of livestock meat production in our state, right now they’re feeling the squeeze," said U.S. Senator Josh Hawley (R-Missouri).
There's only two or three meat packers operating in the country, and they are providing prices to farmers that are lower and lower, and charging consumers, the finished product, more and more,' Sen. Hawley said.
A reporter asked President Trump about the issue last week, during a White House meeting with Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds.
I've asked [Barr] to take a very serious look into it, said President Donald Trump during a meeting with press on May 6.
Neither the U.S. Department of Justice nor Barr himself have issued any official statement on the matter since it was brought up.
An Associated Press report found that, even as covid-19 ravages worker populations at the U.S.’s meatpacking plants, exports from these companies have increased in recent months.
"Meat exports, particularly pork exports to China, grew significantly throughout the first three months of the year," the AP writes.
AP went on to say that "experts say it shouldn't [be of concern to Americans] because much of the meat sold to other countries is cuts that Americans generally don't eat." Still, the contrast appears to be alarming, since companies like Smithfield operate in the United States, while proceeds from the sale of exports manufactured at U.S. plants benefits foreign economies.
Missouri Cattlemen's Association president Marvin Dieckman told meatpoultry.com last month that, “one segment of the industry is making unprecedented profits while the rest of us are counting pennies. We cannot afford to wait another eight months for results of an investigation. We need DOJ to open an investigation immediately.”
U. S. Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue...
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Calls mount for DOJ investigation into ‘price fixing’ in Texas beef industry
by: Jody Barr, KXAN (TX)
May 14, 2020
AUSTIN (KXAN) – When Rusty Reddin slid behind the wheel of his truck to make the 80-mile trip to the cattle auction, he knew he was going to lose before he ever left his ranch in Utopia.
“The producer in the country is getting beat up on it pretty bad,” Redden said as he stood atop the cat walk that hovers above the Gillespie Livestock Company’s cattle pens in Fredericksburg.
Redden lamented over the $1.10 per pound he received on the last load of cattle he auctioned off.
The prices are at their lowest since 2011, Wayne Geistweidt told KXAN. He owns the auction company in Fredericksburg.
Ranchers take their cattle to the auction where slaughterhouse buyers cast bids on the cattle. From there, the “fat cattle” are taken to what’s known as feed lots where they stay until its time to be slaughtered and the meat parts are processed for sale.
Geistweidt pointed to a commodities computer in his office which showed a box of processed meat, called the cutout weight, going for $475. This is the price the packing plants make on a single cow.
This is the highest he’s ever seen since taking over his family’s auction business in 1971.
“They’re [meat packaging plants] making $1,500, $2,000 a head on the cattle where the farmer/rancher is only netting $7-$800 dollars on a calf and the feed lots are only netting $1,500,” Geistweidt said. “So they’re almost doubling their money on what we are losing money on and what the consumer is paying an excess amount of money for.”
“It’s $3 per pound is what a live calf is worth,” Geistweidt said, “Right now we’re getting $1.10.”
“Right now, the cow/calf operator is losing about $300 a head and those same packing plants I’m talking about are making up to $2,200 a head,” Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller told KXAN. Miller sent the U.S. Department of Justice a letter last week asking for a criminal investigation into what he suspects is “price fixing” among the nation’s large meat packers.
“What we have is a consolidation of packers in this country. There is about four major packers and it looks like they’re in collusion doing price control and driving the price. The price of retail beef is at an all-time high and the price ranchers are receiving is at an all-time low,” Miller told KXAN...
more, including video report [6:09 min.]