Letter urges Department of Justice to further investigate “big four” meatpackers
Congressional leaders and cattle industry stakeholders are urging the Department of Justice to continue its investigation into the nation’s four largest meatpackers.
U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley of Iowa and South Dakota’s John Thune joined several colleagues in writing a bicameral letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland, asking the DOJ’s antitrust division to stay vigilant where possible and provide updates on findings.
The letter points out Tyson Foods, JBS, National Beef, and Cargill control approximately 85 percent of the processing industry. The DOJ issued subpoenas to all four as part of its investigation nearly a year ago.
The Iowa Cattlemen’s Association and South Dakota Stock Growers Association also signed onto the letter, formally requesting USDA work concurrently with DOJ to examine whether packers violated the Packers and Stockyards Act through price manipulation, collusion, restrictions of competition, or other unfair practices.
Iowa Cattlemen’s president Richard Godfrey says producers do their best to align production with seasonal consumer demand patterns to maximize price opportunities, but are unable to better position themselves in the market because of the exploitative actions of the packing industry.
South Dakota Stockgrowers director James Halverson suggests if anyone believes there is actual competition among the “big four” today, they are being duped. He says consumers and producers alike are not getting a fair price whether buying or selling.
The letter calls for Senate and House hearings on the issue as well.