A different decade, a new administration, a shuffle in Congressional leadership. Much has changed across the U.S. political landscape in the last several years, yet one concerning issue has lingered for nearly half a century ... corporate concentration within the meatpacking industry.
"The time has come for the government to determine whether the stranglehold large meatpackers have over the beef processing market violate our antitrust laws and principles of fair competition," states a recent congressional letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland. "... four large meat packing companies control over 80% of the processing market in today’s economy and are seemingly able to control prices at their will, or even defy expectations of market fundamentals.
"From our perspective, the anti-competitive practices occurring in the industry today are unambiguous and either our antitrust laws are not being enforced or they are not capable of addressing the apparent oligopoly that so plainly exists. This needs to change."
The letter was signed by 28 members of Congress including both Montana senators Jon Tester and Steve Daines. Support for confronting anti-competitive practices in the meat packing industry spans political ideologies, with arch conservative Representative Paul Gosar's (R-Ariz.) signature appearing alongside that of ardent liberal Representative, Ro Khanna's (D-Calif.).
Concentration within the U.S. meatpacking industry has been a significant concern for more than 30 years. According to USDA statistics, the number of cow/calf operations in the U.S. has been cut nearly in half over the last 40 years, from 1.6 million in 1980 to fewer than 883,000 today. Fewer than 2,000 commercial feedlots now finish 87% of the cattle grown in the U.S. The largest of these can hold more than 400,000 animals at a time.
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Published on 6/28/2021 (2 years 238 days ago) Ranch News