Biden Administration Claims Meat Packers Making Excessive Profits While Consumers and Farmers Not Being Treated FairlyThu, 09 Sep 2021 10:47:11 CDT
The Biden White House has unveiled details of their attack on the "Big Four" meat processors- saying the processors of the three major proteins, beef, pork and poultry- have been making excessive profits at the expense of both consumers and farmers and ranchers. In a report released on Wednesday on concentration in meat processing in the US- the administration says "While factors like increased consumer demand have played a role, the price increases are also driven by a lack of competition at a key bottleneck point in the meat supply chain: meat-processing. Just four large conglomerates control the majority of the market for each of these three products, and the data show that these companies have been raising prices while generating record profits during the pandemic."
The report lays out the administration's belief that the major meat processors are not playing "fair." The report adds "That consolidation gives these middlemen the power to squeeze both consumers and farmers and ranchers. There’s a long history of these giant meat processors making more and more, while families pay more at the grocery store and farmers and ranchers earn less for their products. Absent this corporate consolidation, prices would be lower for consumers and fairer for farmers and ranchers."
The Biden Administration laid out four priorities that USDA will have a leading role in going forward to find ways to make food- and especially meat- more affordable for consumers.
Taking strong actions to crack down on illegal price fixing, enforce antitrust laws, and bring more transparency to the meat-processing industry. USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack told a White House Press Briefing that the agency needs stronger enforcement rules under the Packers and Stockyards Act- wanting tools "to take more definitive action and aggressive action when we see unfair and discriminatory practices- we don't have that power now- we tried to get that during the Obama Administration but Congress blocked us- we think we are now in position to move forward."
Providing relief to small businesses and workers hurt by COVID, and creating a more competitive food supply chain.
Getting ahead of climate change related disruptions by supporting farmers and ranchers from the effects of extreme weather.
Working with Congress to make cattle markets more transparent and fairer.
Watch the complete White House Briefing from Wednesday- we start the video below as USDA Secretary Vilsack is at the podium explaining these proposals- you will also see Brian Deese, National Economic Council Director taking questions with the Secretary.
Click here for the complete report as posted yesterday by the Biden Administration.
The North American Meat Institute issued a statement in response to the allegations made by the Administration in the report we have linked above- Chief Operating Officer of NAMI was quoted as saying "American consumers of most goods and services are seeing higher costs, largely due to a persistent and widespread labor shortage. The meat and poultry industry is no different. Issuing inflammatory statements that ignore the fundamentals of how supply and demand affects markets accomplishes nothing. Meat and poultry markets are competitive and dynamic with no one sector of the industry consistently dominating the market at the expense of another.” Read more from NAMI by clicking here.
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