Also Joins Request for DOJ Investigation of Potential Anticompetitive Practices by Beef Packers
U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) today joined Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) to introduce bipartisan legislation to foster efficient markets while increasing competition and transparency among meat packers who purchase livestock directly from independent producers.
The bill would make systemic changes to the cattle industry to ensure longevity of independent producers, which will protect the nation’s beef supply. It would require that a minimum of 50 percent of a meat packer’s weekly volume of beef slaughter be purchased on the open or spot market.
“It is essential to restore a reasonable degree of transparency in the cattle marketplace, and this bill seeks to do that. These common-sense reforms are important to the overall health of the industry, and key to long-term sustainability of an abundant U.S. beef supply. Producers deserve fair and transparent pricing. It is apparent in this COVID-19 pandemic that packers are taking advantage of producers,” said Hyde-Smith, who serves on the Senate Agriculture Committee and Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee.
Grassley introduced similar legislation previously and reintroduced the bill after hearing from constituents expressing concern that there is currently a discrepancy between high grocery store shelf prices and simultaneous decreased cattle prices. In addition to Hyde-Smith, Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), and Steve Daines (R-Mont.) also cosponsored the measure.
On Tuesday, Hyde-Smith was also among 19 Senators who requested an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice into potential anticompetitive practices in the beef packing industry. The request was made in a letter to Attorney General William Barr.
“Recent pricing discrepancies between fed cattle and boxed beef are pushing cattle producers and feeders to the brink… Cattlemen across America seriously question the ability for their children to take over what are frequently multi-generational family-owned operations that serve as the engines for their communities and our country’s food supply,” the letter reads. “It is critical for the DOJ to act expediently to investigate these concerning circumstances.”
Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) led the letter, which was also signed by Senators Daines, Ernst, Smith, Rounds, Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.), Kevin Cramer, (R-N.D.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), and John Thune (R-S.D.).