North Dakota Farmers Union President Mark Watne made the following statement today on a letter sent to U.S. Attorney General William Barr, urging a federal investigation into national price fixing by meat packers in the cattle industry. The letter was led by N.D. Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem and signed by his counterparts in Colorado, Missouri, Montana, Arizona, Idaho, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming.
“We appreciate Attorney General Stenehjem’s lead role in calling for a Department of Justice investigation into price fixing in the beef industry. In all the years that Farmers Union has called for stronger antitrust enforcement, we have rarely seen such obvious market abuses.
“Four meat packing companies control more than 80% of beef processing in the United States. They’re posting record profits, while ranchers are suffering significant market price losses. The situation definitely smells rotten, and it not only hurts ranchers, but consumers, too.
“This investigation is the first step in a long process toward restoring ranchers’ markets. We will continue to work hard to ensure fair markets, establish truth in labeling, and expand access to local and in-state processing. Until we crack down on the packers, cattle producers in the U.S. will never earn a fair market price for what they produce.”