WASHINGTON – State cattle associations urged US Attorney General William Barr and the US Department of Justice (DOJ) to launch investigations into potential anticompetitive business practices in the meat packing industry.

A letter signed by 23 state cattle associations acknowledged a pending investigation by the US Department of Agriculture, but said the DOJ “would be the appropriate agency to open an investigation and also support USDA in its investigation allowing this process to be concluded in a timely manner.” The associations want “sharper timelines” for the investigation.

“Our members are facing economic and financial destruction during the current crisis, which is compounded by the extreme market shift following the fire in Holcomb, Kan., eight months ago," said Marvin Dieckman, president of the Missouri Cattlemens Association (MCA). “One segment of the industry is making unprecedented profits while the rest of us are counting pennies. We cannot afford to wait another eight months for results of an investigation. We need DOJ to open an investigation immediately.”

Federal lawmakers and industry stakeholders have been sounding alarms about possible anticompetitive behavior in the meatpacking industry. Earlier this month, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said USDA would include pricing during the pandemic in the agency’s investigation of cattle futures and cash prices following a fire at the Tyson Foods Inc. beef plant in Holcomb, in August of 2019.

Read the state associations’ letter here.