Cattle market reform is getting a lot of attention on Capitol Hill, but its chief Senate sponsor complains that key answers are not forthcoming from either beef packers or the Justice Department probing industry practices.
Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says he’ll wait until the Justice Department completes a now almost two-year probe, before deciding if the ‘big four’ packers told the truth in denying price-fixing at Capitol Hill hearings.
“I believe that they would have to answer that way, or they would be admitting colluding, and they’re under oath.”
Cargill, JBS, National Beef Packing, and Tyson Foods CEOs blamed supply and demand issues during the pandemic for high prices, even though prices began to soar in 2015, well before COVID-19. On the recent run-up in beef prices.
“They didn’t talk much about their massive profits over the last year, farmers may be losing money, they’re sometimes making a thousand dollars a head, and the high cost of beef at the supermarket.”
And Grassley asks why the Justice Department is so slow in providing answers about its lengthy investigation. “What’s so secret about all this stuff? But we always do get the same answer on any investigation by the Department of Justice and by the FBI, that they don’t comment on ongoing investigations. But they could at least tell us when are they going to get the investigation over. Give us some timeline.”
Grassley says Congress could do its own probe but shouldn’t have to. He expects the Senate Ag Committee to act soon on his bill to mandate levels of negotiated pricing by region and create a USDA post to look into producer complaints against packers.