USDA To Investigate Beef Prices During Pandemic

WASHINGTON, D.C. (AP) – Nebraska U-S Senator Deb Fischer is praising the USDA decision to expand the investigation into pricing margins launched following last year’s fire that destroy a beef packing plant in Holcomb, Kansas, to include potential unfair market practices during the COVID-19 crisis.

Fischer, a Valentine-area rancher and a member of the Senate Ag Committee, had sent a letter just the day before, asking for the exact action taken yesterday by the agency.

She says she’d heard “from so many Nebraskans about potential unfair practices in the beef packing industry” that she knew something needed to be done. She sees expanding the probe to cover COVIDimpacts as “the first step towards ensuring fairness throughout the beef supply chain.”

Americans are currently buying more beef and grocery stores at high prices while prices for cattle producers are too low to fully cover their costs. Fischer says the result is another round of windfall profits for meatpackers while producers see the viability of their businesses at risk.

Ben Sasse, Nebraska’s other senator, had written this week to the chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission urging it to review market volatility and the widening between boxed beef prices and live cattle prices.

Sasse wrote that “Nebraskans are hustling to feed the world and it is important to have an open and transparent price discovery in the markets.”

He said they’ve “slogged through one disaster after another and now stare down a global pandemic, (so) they deserve a market that is not unlawfully advantaged

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