Tags: Coronavirus | state | attorneygeneral | meat | pricefixing | probe

11 State AGs Call on AG Barr to Probe Meat Price Fixing

cuts of beef are in a refridgerated display
US slaughterhouses have emerged as COVID-19 outbreak hotspots in several states, compelling plant closures, especially for pork and beef.   (Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images)

By    |   Tuesday, 05 May 2020 09:28 PM

Attorneys general from 11 states are calling on a Justice Department investigation on price fixing by the meat processing industry in a letter to Attorney General William Barr.

"We write to express our concerns regarding market concentration and potential
anticompetitive practices by the meat packers in the cattle industry," the letter, signed by attorneys general in Nebraska, Iowa, North Dakota, Colorado, Missouri, Montana, Arizona, Idaho, South Dakota, Minnesota, and Wyoming.

"We urge the United States Department of Justice ('DOJ') to investigate the state of competition in this industry and the dynamics that are depriving cattle ranchers and American consumers of the benefits of a competitive cattle industry."

The call comes as cattle prices are low and decreasing, while the super market prices are high amid a low supply.

The four largest meatpacking companies control more than 80% of beef processing in the U.S., the letter read.

"In this highly concentrated industry, meat packers have achieved sizable profit margins," it continued. "Cattle ranchers, however, who for generations have supplied our nation's beef, are squeezed and often struggle to survive.

"Consumers, moreover, do not realize the benefits from a competitive market. In short, with such high concentration and the threat of increasing consolidation, we have concerns that beef processors are well positioned to coordinate their behavior and create a bottleneck in the cattle industry — to the detriment of ranchers and consumers alike."

The global coronavirus pandemic has only exacerbated an existing market structure, they claim.

"We are specifically asking the DOJ to lead a thorough examination of the competitive dynamics of this industry," it concluded. "Even if, after investigation, there is no appropriate enforcement action that can be pursued, we would suggest that regulatory strategies should be explored to promote competition, address market manipulation, and protect consumers."

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Attorneys general from 11 states are calling on a Justice Department investigation on price fixing by the meat processing industry in a letter to Attorney General William Barr....
state, attorneygeneral, meat, pricefixing, probe
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2020-28-05
Tuesday, 05 May 2020 09:28 PM
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