KULR8: Tester asks AG Barr to open investigation into cattle market price fixing during pandemic

Senator Jon Tester announced Friday he is asking Attorney General William Barr, in coordination with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, to open an investigation into reports of price fixing in the cattle market in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

“The profit discrepancies between packers and independent ranchers is egregious, and merits a long-overdue antitrust investigation into the consolidated meat packing industry,” wrote Tester and three of his colleagues. “The Federal government must act on this issue soon or American’s cow calf operators, as well as small and medium size feeders will go out of business while multi-national corporations continue to reap record profits.”

Tester says that price irregularities in the beef market have been present for some time, but have been made worse by the nationwide outbreak of the coronavirus.

“Evidence of price fixing is now even clearer as the nation reacts to the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet again, as the demand for beef increases nationwide, live cattle futures are sinking. We are hearing from ranchers that it is not feasible to sell their cattle at such low futures and still hope to break even. In a time when Americans are consuming more beef than ever before, it is confounding that ranchers are struggling, while meat packers take home record profits…The nation’s food supply chain is an issue of national security.”