Fischer asks Senate Judiciary subcommittee to hold hearing on cattle markets
Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., this week asked the Senate Judiciary Antitrust, Competition Policy, and Consumer Rights Subcommittee to hold a public hearing “to examine claims of price manipulation, collusion, restriction of competition, price gouging, or other unfair practices within the current structure of the beef meatpacking industry.”
In a letter to Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, chairman of the subcommittee, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., the ranking member, Fischer wrote, “In the past year, family cattle operations have faced volatile markets and a widening of the spread between the price received for cattle and the boxed beef price, which has caused a number of Nebraska cattle producers to question the integrity of cattle markets. Recently, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted this disparity. We’ve seen dramatic price swings in the cattle market that have negatively impacted producers’ bottom lines while prices that packers receive for boxed beef have increased.”
Fischer said that, while she supports Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue’s inquiry into the situation, “it has become clear we as lawmakers must do our duty to investigate allegations of wrongdoing under the authorities and congressional intent set forth by the Packers and Stockyards Act to ensure cattle producers have a fair chance in the marketplace.”
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The Agriculture Department has established a new data report, the U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement Seasonal Perishable Products Weekly Update, the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service announced on Jan. 11.