WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, led a bipartisan group of 18 of her Senate colleagues in writing a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice requesting that the department investigate potential anticompetitive activities in the highly concentrated beef packing sector.
“Recent pricing discrepancies between fed cattle and boxed beef are pushing cattle producers and feeders to the brink…Cattlemen across America seriously question the ability for their children to take over what are frequently multi-generational family-owned operations that serve as the engines for their communities and our country’s food supply,” the letter reads. “It is critical for the DOJ to act expediently to investigate these concerning circumstances.”
“As attorney general, I share the concerns expressed by Senator Fischer regarding the past and current business practices of the meatpacking industry. The Nebraska Department of Justice has an important responsibility to ensure that anti-competitive conduct impacting the cattle industry and Nebraska consumers not be allowed in our state. My fellow attorneys general and I will fulfill our duty to investigate, and fully prosecute, if an investigation reveals that certain companies in the meatpacking industry are not properly complying with our laws that prohibit anti-competitive behavior,” said Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson.
“COVID-19's impact on the cattle market has reignited concerns that surfaced following the 2019 beef packing plant fire. These concerns continue to focus on extreme market deteriorations that repeatedly take place for the production segments of the beef industry that are closely followed by rapid increases in boxed beef values. We are grateful that Senator Fischer has reinforced the Nebraska Cattlemen’s ask for the DOJ to investigate meat packing industry margins by also asking for an investigation,” said Nebraska Cattlemen President Ken Herz.
Full text of the letter is available here.
Senator Fischer’s letter follows one written last week by 11 state attorneys general calling for the Department of Justice to investigate potential anticompetitive activity in the cattle industry.
Senator Fischer has also written to Senate Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee leadership calling for a public hearing to examine competition and claims of possible market manipulation. Consequently, Chairman Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Ranking Member Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) wrote their own letter to the DoJ calling for investigations into potential anticompetitive activity.