WASHINGTON – For several months public officials and cattle ranchers have been calling on the Department of Justice to investigate anticompetitive activity in the beef industry. The DOJ was listening — the agency recently issued subpoenas to Tyson Foods Inc., JBS SA, Cargill Inc. and National Beef Inc.

Tyson Foods and Cargill declined to comment on the matter. National Beef and JBS did not respond to a request for comment.

Federal lawmakers applauded the action. US Representative Fred Lucas (R-Okla.) called reports of the DOJ’s ongoing investigation encouraging news for cattle ranchers.

“The coronavirus pandemic exposed the vulnerabilities of America’s food supply chain and accentuated the challenges beef producers face with a market that is controlled by the actions of a few, mostly foreign-based firms,” Lucas said.

“The DOJ’s investigation could shed light on these unsettling competition and security problems in our supply chain, and I join my fellow cattle ranchers in thanking the Department for their checks and balances on an increasingly competitive food industry. I urge US Attorney General William Barr to share the findings of the Department’s investigation with Congress as soon as possible so that policymakers can address the concerns of their investigation and restore confidence back into cattle markets.”

In a Twitter post, US Senator John Thune (R-SD) said, “Glad to see the DOJ is stepping up and investigating this. This is important news for our ranchers and shows the administration is listening to our calls for the truth.”

In April, 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.”