DES MOINES, Iowa (KCAU) – Iowa Attorney General (AG) Tom Miller and a bipartisan group of attorney generals from 10 other states are urging the Department of Justice (DOJ) to pursue a federal investigation into suspected national price-fixing by meatpackers in the cattle industry.
In a letter to U.S. Attorney General William Barr, all 11 attorney generals expressed concern over the likelihood of manipulation of the market for processed beef.
They also said that the four largest meatpacking companies control more than 80% of the beef processing in the country and the shelf price of beef is exceptionally high, while cattle prices are and continue to drop.
The AGs mention their concern over market manipulation has increased with beef prices that are reaching record levels as consumers stockpile meat in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the cattle prices remain low and are decreasing.
The attorney generals said the pricing margin is a sign that meatpackers are using their ability to control the market for processed beef and take advantage of the situation in a manner that could violate the federal antitrust law.
They mention in addition to harming the cattle producers, this potentially illegal practice is hurting consumers all across the nation with many of them struggling because of a loss of employment and lowered incomes.
The AGs believed that the situation warrants a full federal investigation because of the alleged anticompetitive conduct harms to consumers and the cattle ranchers across the U.S.
We are specifically asking the Department of Justice to lead a thorough examination of the competitive dynamics of this industry. Now, more than ever, we need to dedicate our collective resources to promote competition and protect consumers.From the letter to U.S. Attorney General William Barr
The attorney generals from the following states signed the letter:
- North Dakota
- South Dakota