Thune, Johnson, NCBA pleased with USDA announcement of investigation into cattle markets

WASHINGTON, DC- U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) Wednesday urged U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue to take further action to strengthen the integrity of the cattle market by requesting that USDA’s Packers and Stockyards Division investigate the cattle market volatility due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Thune also requested that USDA conclude its investigation into beef pricing margins following the August 2019 Tyson beef processing plant fire in Holcomb, Kansas.
“This is the second time in less than a year that cattle producers have faced extreme volatility in the cattle market,” wrote Thune. “I appreciated your decision to direct the USDA Packers and Stockyards Division to launch an investigation into beef pricing margins following the Holcomb, Kansas, Tyson beef processing plant fire in August 2019. I urge you to conclude this investigation as soon as possible. In addition, I request that the Packers and Stockyards Division investigate the cattle market volatility due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

WASHINGTON, DC- U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) Thursday urged Attorney General William Barr to investigate price manipulation and other anticompetitive activities in the beef market. Thune’s request comes as cattle producers in South Dakota and across the country are facing significant market volatility in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Yesterday, Thune sent a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue to request that USDA’s Packers and Stockyards Division investigate the cattle market volatility due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which Perdue announced yesterday USDA would pursue.
“The widening gap between cattle producer and packer profit margins raise serious concerns about potential instances of price manipulation and other unfair practices within the beef industry, especially considering that four meat packing companies control more than 80 percent of the beef supply in the United States,” wrote Thune. “With these concerns in mind, I respectfully request that the DOJ Antitrust Division investigate the cattle market volatility following the Tyson plant fire and during the COVID-19 pandemic to determine if any anticompetitive behavior has occurred.”

WASHINGTON, DC- U.S. Representative Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) Wednesday urged President Trump to oversee a comprehensive, multi-agency investigation following continuous cattle market volatility. In 2019, Johnson urged the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide a thorough investigation to producers following cattle market volatility after the August 2019 Holcomb, Kansas, Tyson beef processing plant fire.
“We need to get to the bottom of exactly what is going on, and why,” said Johnson. “A comprehensive approach is the only one that makes sense, one that includes the Department of Justice, the Commodities Futures Trading Commission, USDA Packers and Stockyards, and congressional hearings. As I said in the wake of the Holcomb fire, whatever investigation is done needs to be “for real,” rather than “for show.”

WASHINGTON, DC– NCBA President Marty Smith Wednesday released the following statement on United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue’s announcement of expanding the agency’s investigation into cattle markets:
“I would like to thank President Donald Trump and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue for their quick response to NCBA’s request to expand the agency’s investigation into cattle markets. Secretary Perdue’s decision to examine market reactions surrounding the Holcomb fire and the spread of COVID-19 in the United States, will help restore the confidence of cattle producers in the market. We also look forward to the agency’s recommendations about improvements the industry can make to its markets, improvements that will ensure we have the fair and functioning markets that are so vital to cattle producers.”