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Agricultural News

Oklahoma Lawmakers Sign Letter to Attorney General- Calling on Justice Department to Provide Update on Cattle Market Investigation

Wed, 09 Jun 2021 05:23:42 EDT

Oklahoma Lawmakers Sign Letter to Attorney General- Calling on Justice Department to Provide Update on Cattle Market Investigation Representative Mike Guest (R-MS-3) and Representative Darren Soto (D-FL-9) have led a bipartisan group of 52 lawmakers in pushing the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to complete their investigation into the meatpacking sector, and whether or not anticompetitive practices have contributed to a persistent imbalance in the cattle markets. The letter, dated June 8th, includes the signatures of four of the five members from the Oklahoma House delegation, including former House Ag Committee Chairman Frank Lucas as well as Congressman Tom Cole, Congressman Markwayne Mullin and Congresswoman Stephanie Bice.

This letter is the latest result of a recent groundswell of bipartisan, bicameral attention into the need to return market leverage to the side of cattle farmers and ranchers and address the startling price disparity between live cattle and boxed beef.

The Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association issued a statement on Tuesday evening, thanking the Oklahoma lawmkaers for being a part of this latest effort to call on DOJ to respond to Congress and the cattle industry about where they are in this investigation. Here is their full statement:

“OCA appreciates the lead of 52 United States Congressional leaders including Oklahoma Representatives Bice, Cole, Lucas and Mullin calling upon the Department of Justice to conclude and communicate their investigation into the potential market manipulation of the four largest meatpackers. In an April 21, 2020 letter, OCA called upon the USDA and DOJ to complete their investigation into the potential market misconduct of the four largest meatpackers in the United States. The DOJ has still not completed or communicated progress in their launched investigation. It is long past time for a report from DOJ as they have had ample time to investigate. Oklahoma is blessed with congressional leaders who recognize the challenges faced by our beef cattle producers and seek positive and proactive solutions to those challenges.”

Last week, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association- with the support of 39 state cattle groups(inlcuding OCA)- called yet again for a swift conclusion to DOJ's investigation into the packing sector.

"Market volatility leaves our producers with extreme uncertainty, and this lack of stability and profitability is problematic for the entire beef supply chain," said NCBA Vice President of Government Affairs Ethan Lane. "The growing motivation in Congress to hasten the conclusion of the DOJ investigation and take action on the issues plaguing our industry's marketplace is the result of grassroots consensus among cattle producers. Across the country, in sale barns and state affiliate meetings, we're hearing the same frustration from our members - no matter how the pendulum swings, the leverage always seems to be on the side of the packers. We thank Rep. Guest and Rep. Soto for adding their leadership to this critical effort at a time when cattle producers need stability."

You can click on the PDF link below for the complete letter or read it here:

Dear Attorney General Garland:

On May 22, 2020, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Antitrust Division issued civil investigative demands (CIDs) to the four largest meatpackers in the United States due to concerns of anticompetitive conduct within the beef industry. Unfortunately, the DOJ has not provided any updates regarding the investigation’s status or conclusive reports resulting from this review. We respectfully request details on the outcome of the investigation. Should this matter require more time, we encourage the Antitrust Division to continue its civil investigation while at minimum providing a status update to Congress.

We understand that a thorough investigation can take many months, but it concerns us that farmers, ranchers, and the packers themselves have all been left with little direction since the CIDs were issued. As you may know, the price for live cattle in the United States has decreased in the last several years, forcing many small operators to make difficult decisions as they strive to stay in business and keep their farms operational. Yet, at the same time, the price of boxed beef has increased significantly, raising consumer prices and widening the gap between live cattle prices, which is a concern for ranchers and consumers alike. This disparity has only been accelerated by the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and the labor shortages in processing facilities due to enhanced government benefits, all of which has resulted in continued food supply chain disruption.

These challenges reinforce the need to ensure that our nation’s farmers, ranchers, and producers operate in transparent markets, which in turn helps feed American families. We ask that the DOJ continue its attentiveness to this matter and provide updates of findings to ensure confidence in our commodity markets. Thank you for your review and consideration of this request.

Cosigners Include: Trent Kelly (MS-01); Sanford Bishop (GA-02); Rick Crawford (AR-01); Rick Allen (GA-12); William Timmons (SC-04); Austin Scott (GA-08); Scott DesJarlais (TN-04); Mike Rogers (AL-03); Scott Franklin (FL-15); Bill Posey (FL-08); Kat Cammack (FL-03); Clay Higgins (LA-03); Bruce Westerman (AR-04); Tom Rice (SC-07); Ralph Norman (SC-05); Garret Graves (LA-06); Jeff Duncan (SC-03); Barry Moore (AL-02); Diana Harshbarger (TN-01); John Rose (TN-06); Julia Letlow (LA-05); Drew Ferguson (GA-03); Steven Palazzo (MS-04); Joe Wilson (SC-02); David Rouzer (NC-07); Madison Cawthorn (NC-11); Gregory F. Murphy (NC-03); Mike Johnson (LA-04); Robert Aderholt (AL-04); Chuck Fleischmann (TN-03); Frank Lucas (OK-03); Gregory W. Steube (FL-17); Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25); Bob Gibbs (OH-07); Mariannette Miller-Meeks, M.D. (IA-02); Mary E. Miller (IL-15); Anthony Gonzalez (OH-16); Bill Johnson (OH-06); Adrian Smith (NE-03); Warren Davidson (OH-08); James Comer (KY-01); Vicky Hartzler (MO-04); Cliff Bentz (OR-02); Lisa McClain (MI-10); Michelle Fischbach (MN-07); Tom Cole (OK-04); Markwayne Mullin (OK-02); Liz Cheney (WY-AL); Stephanie Bice (OK-05); David G. Valadao (CA-21).



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