This year, the four largest meat packers generated record profits, while helping to increase the price of beef by 14%, pork by 12% and poultry by 7%. Together, these three items account for half of the recent increase in prices for food consumed in the home. But in beef, for example, that doesn’t translate into fair prices for producers. Farmers and ranchers get less, families pay more at the grocery store, and the middle class picks up the difference.
The USDA is taking aggressive action to combat the power of conglomerates and level the playing field for family farmers and independent ranchers.
First, we are working with the Department of Justice to vigorously investigate and crack down on price fixing, such as the ongoing investigations into the poultry industry. Four big business executives have been charged and more than $ 100 million in fines imposed for a conspiracy to rig higher prices for consumers and reap bigger profits for executives.
Second, we are strengthening the rules of Packers & Stockyards, so that meat packers cannot exercise their market dominance over farmers and ranchers.
Third, we are stepping up competition by investing, expanding and building new meat-packing capabilities, including $ 500 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds to help new competitors expand the processing capacity of local and regional meat and poultry.