Sat, 10 Jun 2023

US weighs investigation of price fixing by meat packers

Robert Besser
23 May 2022, 01:40 GMT+10

WASHINGTON D.C.: U.S. senators Elizabeth Warren and Mike Rounds have introduced a bipartisan resolution requesting the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate U.S. beef companies for potential price fixing.

The resolution is the latest effort by politicians to hold meat companies accountable for high food prices, blamed in part by critics claiming U.S. beef production is controlled by four large companies.

The senators invoked a 1914 act authorizing the president or Congress to direct the FTC to investigate potential antitrust cases, though the rule has not been used since the 1920s.

According to the most recent data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), in 2018 just four companies, Cargill, Tyson Foods, Brazil-based JBS SA and National Beef Packing, slaughtered some 85 percent of U.S. grain-fattened cattle.

The companies, which have previously denied collaborating to drive up prices, did not immediately respond to requests for comments.

The Department of Justice is already investigating price fixing in the chicken-processing industry.

Congress should use every possible tool to stop monopoly abuses, said Angela Huffman, co-founder and vice president of policy and advocacy group Farm Action, which endorsed the resolution.

"We are excited that a bipartisan team is reaching back in history and dusting off this tool. The downside is that it is a long path to make change," she said, as quoted by Reuters.

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