US Department of Agriculture investigates livestock price fixing allegations

In the United States of America, they are talking again about livestock price. Last April, R-CALF, an association of farmers, accused a few meat trade giants, such as Tyson Foods, Cargill, JBS division in the States, and National Beef, of reducing livestock unit prices to gain additional market shares. Following such accusations, the Ministry of Agriculture decided to look closely into the matter.

A few doubts about a fire

Sonny Perdue, secretary of the US ministry, launched an inquiry into discrepancies between cattle and meat costs following a recent blaze that hit a Tyson Foods slaughterhouse, located in Holcomb, Kansas. They had to shut down the plant because of the fire. Since the market lost an important buyer, livestock price went up consequently: at this point, according to charges pressed by farmers, companies allegedly took advantage of the situation by lowering their bids. At the same time, prices of processed meat have been rising because buyers could get them less easily. Therefore, according to accusations, food giants supposedly gained a lot of money while acting inside the range between a lower purchase price and a higher selling price.

The Minister’s position

“While consistently striving hard to monitor the effects of the fire in the bovine meat processing plant, in Holcomb, I appointed the Packers and Stockyards unit of USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) to launch an investigation into the recent price margins of bovine meat. The aim of the inquiry is to find out and detect any possible evidence for price fixing, collusion, restraint of competition and any other unfair practice”, pointed out Perdue in his official release. “Should we detect any unfair practice, we shall take immediate action against them – added the Ministry Secretary –. In the meantime, the USDA is working in close touch with the plant management, alongside other parties involved in the matter, to figure out the blaze impact on the industry”. Tyson immediately announced their complete readiness to liaise with inquiring authorities, while working promptly, at the same time, to fix the damage caused by the blaze.

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