07.22.20

Daines to USDA: Cattle Market Investigation Update is an Important Step Forward, More Works Needs to be Done

U.S. SENATE – U.S. Senator Steve Daines today issued the following statement following the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) releasing a report and update on the ongoing investigation into allegations of price-fixing and market manipulation within the cattle market and the meatpacking industry. Daines has been urging the USDA and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate this issue in a quickly and thorough manner.

“USDA’s findings are an important step forward in the ongoing investigation and provides much needed details on the impacts of COVID-19 on cattle markets and beef prices,” Daines said. “But more works needs to be done and I will continue to push the USDA and the DOJ to actively coordinate and conduct a complete and thorough investigation to ensure our Montana ranchers can compete in a fair marketplace.”

USDA’s report summarized the market conditions, fed cattle prices, boxed beef values and the spread before and after the fire and plant closure at the Tyson Holcomb plant, and before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It indicated that the investigation into potential violations of antitrust law and/or the Packers and Stockyards Act are ongoing and doesn’t make any determinative findings at this point.

To read the USDA’s report, click HERE.

Background:  

Last week, Senator Daines brought USDA Under Secretary Northey to Montana to hear directly from Montana farmers and ranchers in a roundtable discussion.

Last week, Daines sent a letter urging the USDA and the DOJ to actively coordinate and expand the scope of their efforts in the ongoing investigations into allegations of market manipulation and anti-competitive behavior by meat packers in the cattle industry.

In early July, Daines led a roundtable discussion with USDA Under Secretary Greg Ibach with some of Montana’s cattle industry leaders to discuss the important and ongoing investigations into meat packers and allegations of market manipulation and price fixing in the cattle markets.

On May 12, 2020, Daines joined a letter in support of efforts by attorneys general across the country calling on the DOJ to move quickly in its investigation of allegations of price-fixing and market manipulation within the cattle market and the beef meatpacking industry.

In April, USDA announced it was expanding its investigation into the divergence between box and live beef prices. Daines spoke directly with Secretary Perdue about this issue and the need for USDA and DOJ to investigate.

On March 19th, 2020, sent a letter calling on the DOJ to investigate the ongoing allegations of price-fixing and market manipulation within the cattle market and the beef meatpacking industry

Last September, Daines sent a letter to the USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue urging a swift, thorough and transparent investigation into the impact of the fire that occurred at a Tyson Food beef processing plant in Holcomb, Kansas.

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