Fischer Calls Economic Analysis of These Events Troubling, Will Introduce Legislation to Bring Transparency & Equity to Beef Supply Chain
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, released the following statement after the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) concluded its investigation into market manipulation in the cattle industry following a fire at a Tyson Foods plant in Holcomb, Kansas, and the COVID-19 pandemic:
“I appreciate the USDA’s work on this investigation, and their analysis of what occurred after these two events underscores the immediate need for reforms to strengthen the cattle industry. The report confirms our serious misgivings about the many factors that are working to destabilize the marketplace. In light of these events and this report, I will be introducing legislation soon in the Senate aimed at providing equity and transparency for all market participants.”
The report, prepared by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service in coordination with the Office of the Chief Economist, summarizes market conditions, fed cattle prices, boxed beef values and the spread before and after the fire and plant closure at the Tyson Holcomb plant, and before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. It also discusses several policy considerations in light of the desire by many market participants for improved price discovery, reinvigorated competition, and a more transparent relationship between the prices for live cattle and the resulting products. The full report is available here.
In April, Senator Fischer wrote a letter to USDA requesting that the agency expand the investigation into pricing margins that was launched following the Holcomb, Kansas fire to include potential unfair market practices during the COVID-19 crisis.
In May, Senator Fischer led a bipartisan group of 18 of her Senate colleagues in writing a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) requesting that the department investigate potential anticompetitive activities in the highly concentrated beef packing sector. Following that letter, the DoJ subpoenaed the nation’s four largest beef packers as part of its ongoing investigation.